This is a story for anyone who has ever felt like they don’t belong.
At six, she’s memorising the dictionary. At seven, she’s correcting her teachers. At eight, she spins the globe and picks her favourite country on the sound of its name: Burundi. Augusta is a twin, born in August. Her sister, Julia, was born in July (yes, completely possible..) Within this book we follow Augusta’s life as she explores the world firstly from the confines of her own bedroom until she’s old enough to branch out further and further into the lands that initially she only dreams of. At the same time, we follow Parfait’s life – as he navigates the complex political turmoil of Burundi and the tragedy that accompanies his narrative.
To describe the difference between twins Julia and Augusta is both simple and difficult at the same time. This quote from the book sums them up perfectly…
“Our fifth birthday, one year of school done, and my legs and arms narrowing as I rose an inch above Julia’s head. We were given tricycles, mine, yellow and Julia’s, pink. Julia drew chalk lines on the drive and spent the day reversing into parking spaces. I rode out of the drive, turned left, curved around to number 13, at the top of the crescent, twelve o’clock, crossed the road precariously to the roundabout and drove my trike into a fishpond singing, ‘We all live in a yellow submarine.’”
There’s an essence of all of my favourite literary works in this book. But equally something that makes it totally unique. This is perfect for fans of Matilda, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, and M for Mammy. I dislike suggesting authors similar to others because I feel a work of amazing literature is the writers own – in their own right. But suggesting other titles feels more comfortable.
“I quickly thought of about twenty-five things that were less exciting than the new ASDA… Lard and washing up liquid..fingernail clippings and trowels…”
Perhaps the most fascinating thing for me, about this book, is that it’s Joanna Glen’s first. An extremely strong debut novel (I always feel that Debut is a sign of hope – that there will be more). I certainly hope that this isn’t Glen’s last dive into the literary world.