Here goes. To start off here is my review of ‘the other hand’ by chris cleave. I don’t know how Chris might feel about being deprived of his capital letters, but this is how the book has been produced by the publisher. In fact, the publisher has gone to town on being different on this one. For instance, we are told in the blurb:
“We don’t want to tell you what happens in this book. It is a truly special story and we don’t want to spoil it”
Why does this make me suspicious about the book standing on its own merits?
Anyway, here we go….
Chris Cleave is to be admired for his clear intent of making people sit up and take notice on the issue of asylum seeking. This book tackles this serious matter in a popular fiction format, but ultimately fails because the format cheapens the seriousness.
Initially I was captivated by the narrative voice of Little Bee, a young woman from Nigeria seeking asylum in the UK. Her outsider perspective successfully cast the cool light of irony on British society. Her predicament rang true and she seemed a suitable character through which a story could be distilled. But the story turned out not to belong to Little Bee.
It turned out that this was a book with large emotions on every page, a huge sweep of events and incidents which tumbled over each other at a rapid, too rapid, pace, with reader-manipulation cringingly obvious and the whole caboodle smothered with a big fat coating of melodrama. The result was that, sadly, the plot became unbelievable and the issues devalued. Oh, and the child, initially appealingly portrayed, just became irritating.
So, one star for the character of Little Bee and one star for ambition (possibly misguided). And I nearly gave a star for some good writing and clever turns of phrase but unfortunately, by the end of the book, these started to feel like an over-indulgence by the author, the literary equivalent of empty calories.
Read it to see if you agree!