Three women. Three generations. Three secrets.
Katie's life is falling apart: her best friend thinks she's a freak, her mother, Caroline, controls every aspect of her life, and her estranged grandmother, Mary, appears as if out of nowhere. Mary has dementia and needs lots of care, and when Katie starts putting together Mary's life story, secrets and lies are uncovered: Mary's illegitimate baby, her zest for life and freedom and men; the way she lived her life to the full yet suffered huge sacrifices along the way. As the relationship between Mary and Caroline is explored, Katie begins to understand her own mother's behavior, and from that insight, the terrors about her sexuality, her future, and her younger brother are all put into perspective.
Funny, sad, honest, and wise, this powerful multigenerational novel from international bestseller Jenny Downham celebrates life like no book before.
Downham (You Against Me) examines the family battles and internal conflicts of three generations of women in this novel about a household in crisis. Seventeen-year-old Katie's life takes an unexpected turn when her estranged grandmother Mary, diagnosed with Alzheimer's, moves into their small apartment. While Katie's mother tries to find another place for Mary to stay, Katie is drawn to the elderly stranger, a woman tormented by a past she can't reliably remember. Even though Katie already has her share of responsibilities, trying to meet her mother's high standards and looking after her disabled brother, she offers to become Mary's caretaker. She is determined to unlock secrets about Mary's history but doesn't realize how her own past is intertwined with her grandmother's. Alternating between Katie's and Mary's point of view, Downham shows extraordinary skill in expressing the complex psychologies of two very different women while exploring how people are shaped by events, unrealized dreams, and restrictions. The more answers Katie finds, the more she realizes that she will have to become someone new in order to be true to herself. Ages 14 up.