Rae is ten years old, and she’s tough. She’s had to be: life with her mother has taught her the world is not her friend. Now suddenly her mum is gone and Rae is alone, except for her dog Splinter.
Rae can do a lot of things pretty well for a kid. She can take care of herself and Splints, stay under the radar at school and keep the front yard neat enough that the neighbours won’t get curious. But she is gnawed at by fear and sadness; haunted by the shadow of a terrible secret.
Lettie, who lives next door, might know more about Rae than she lets on. But she has her own reasons for keeping the world at arm’s length. When Rae finds out what they are, it seems like she and Lettie could help each other.
But how long can a friendship last when it’s based on secrets?
Tender, funny, heartbreaking—A Million Things is a story of grief and resilience, told with eloquent simplicity. In brave, spiky Rae, Emily Spurr has created a character you will never forget.
Born in Tasmania, Emily Spurr lives in Melbourne with her partner, their twin sons and a deaf, geriatric cat. Shortlisted for the prestigious Victorian Premier’s Unpublished Manuscript Prize, A Million Things is her first novel.
‘Poignant, uplifting and beautifully written.’ Catherine Jinks
Spurr delivers a haunting account of a young girl grappling with abandonment in this excellent debut. Rae, a 10-year-old living just outside Melbourne, Australia, alone with her dog Splinter, attempts to hide that her depressive mother has hanged herself in the garden shed. To ease the loneliness, Rae narrates her inner thoughts to the specter of her mother. Distracting from her grief, Rae counts the days and compulsively keeps herself occupied with school and a list of tasks to maintain her home and the image of a normal child. Her routine is interrupted by the elderly Lettie, a hoarder living next door with her own painful past who spends her days watching the girl's coming and goings. Rae reluctantly befriends the old woman and concocts schemes for them both in order to keep social services at bay. When a nosy neighborhood boy and his mother uproot her plans after a month and half of living alone, Rae must confront her circumstances: "most of your life is just memories, some of them not even that clear. And it's just a house that reminds you what it felt like when you thought it was a home. You don't realize how ephemeral it is." Through Rae's devastating yet hopeful interior dialogue, Spurr delicately illustrates the complexity of loss and isolation. Fans of Liane Moriarty should take a look.