Once the reader has adjusted to reading through the mind of a four-year-old, what is encountered is a deeply tragic tale of what it is to be stuck in a poverty trap. Amanda Berriman’s debut novel deals with dodgy landlords, illness, social work intervention, and sexual abuse all in the space of 339 heart-wrenching yet hopeful pages.
Four-year-old Jesika may not understand the difference between yesterday and tomorrow or what a café is but she understands that you have to use your big voice when you don’t like what someone is doing and that hurting someone is bad. Her naivety and innocence are both blessing and curse as her mum struggles to make ends meet following the departure of Jesika and Toby’s dad and the death of the mother-in-law who had taken them in. Their home is a “dump” but all this goes over the head of young Jesika until a friend tells her a secret that will cause the young girl a turmoil she eventually can’t keep under wraps anymore.
The reader quickly becomes accustomed to Jesika’s particular dialogue and believes in the characters who surround her, who are so believable because they are all real people who we interact with every day or walk past in the street – the young mum struggling to get a space for her pushchair on the bus, the man selling you your fruit and vegetables in the corner shop, and the pre-school teachers always watching and always listening.
The story touches upon the unfortunately all-too-relevant trials and tribulations faced by those living on (or below) the breadline in the UK today (an estimated figure of 4.6 people in a recent survey by the Independent).
Home will make you think and will make you appreciate what you have. It is a quick read with a delightful narrator, which is the feature that sets it apart from the many other books of the same genre.