SHORTLISTED FOR THE PORTICO PRIZE
'A distinctive new voice for fans of 'Fleabag' or Sally Rooney' Independent
'Raw, intimate and authentic' The Sunday Times
'Lyrically poetic' Evening Standard
'Disarmingly honest . . . I wish I had read this when I was 19.' Guardian
When Lucy wins a place at university, she thinks London will unlock her future. It is a city alive with pop up bars, cool girls and neon lights illuminating the Thames at night. At least this is what Lucy expects, having grown up seemingly a world away in working-class Sunderland, amid legendary family stories of Irish immigrants and boarding houses, now-defunct ice rinks and an engagement ring at a fish market.
Yet Lucy's transition to a new life is more overwhelming than she ever expected. As she works long shifts to make ends meet and navigates chaotic parties from East London warehouses to South Kensington mansions, she still feels like an outsider among her fellow students. When things come to a head at her graduation, Lucy takes off for Ireland, seeking solace in her late grandfather's cottage and the wild landscape that surrounds it, wondering if she can piece together who she really is.
Lyrical and boundary-breaking, Saltwater explores the complexities of mother-daughter relationships, the challenges of shifting class identity and the way that the strongest feelings of love can be the hardest to define.
Twenty-five-year-old Lucy Bailey reflects on her life after having moved from London to a quiet family home on the west coast of Ireland in this solid nonlinear debut from Andrews. Lucy quits her bartending job and relocates to the house her recently deceased grandfather bequeathed to her in the tiny fishing town of Burtonport. Though she once intended to make her life in bustling London, Lucy finds that the unhurried pace of the port appeals to her. Short vignettes chronicle a childhood with her devoted mother, Susie, who raised Lucy and her deaf younger brother, Josh, in a working-class town without much help from their alcoholic father. As Lucy grows up, she becomes a big reader, takes a shine to the Beat writers, and is encouraged by a high school teacher. Much of Andrews's novel concerns Lucy finding herself as a teenager and college student, but this part of the story isn't as engrossing as Lucy contemplating her family ties, the highlight of the book: "I think about all of the times my grandfather stumbled drunk up this road and now here I am, doing the same." Her passages about dating and trying to fit in pale in comparison. Still, this coming-of-age story will appeal to readers who appreciate strong mother-daughter relationships.