I’ve just finished “Home” by Amanda Berriman and I think, it’s possibly the cutest book I think I’ve ever read!
“Home” is a contemporary read that tells the story of Jesika, a 4 year old child and her family’s struggles with everyday life. They’re at the bottom end of the poverty spectrum so they don’t have very much. “Home” is really a story about relying on others when you’re feeling low and in need of support.
Thanks to NetGalley for giving me the chance to read Home! I think, I’ve possibly found my favourite standalone novel 🙂.
I really enjoyed reading from Jesika’s perspective. I loved all of the words that she couldn’t quite get right, like “hospipal” (meaning hospital), "cept" (meaning except), "apposed" (meaning supposed) for example, and reading about or her “big hurty” whenever she was scared what would happen to herself or someone she cared about. Jesika is definitely an unreliable narrator because she’s only 4 years old, and is often unsure of events in the novel. Jesika explains everything in a long winded, roundabout way, which is reminiscent of a child, I think. That’s why I’m using it for the last Popsugar Challenge, “Your favourite prompt from the 2015, 2016, 2017 POPSUGAR reading challenges” which is, “A book with an unreliable narrator”, as Jesika is very much this, as I’ve explained above.
Home is also set in England so it was nice to see the place where I live reflected in a book.
Although lots of this book is light, in that it’s told from a 4 year old’s perspective, there is a dark undertone of child abuse, too. We don’t see any of the abuse but it’s still there. Therefore, if you’re sensitive to the topic of abuse, child abuse in particular, then maybe stay away from reading this.
“She pulls out a red zippy top and I hope it’s the one with the strawberry on it cos I like that one the best but I can’t see cos she tucks in under her arm and then she says, “Arms up” and she pulls the green jumper over my head and puts it on the back of Toby’s buggy and then crouches down and holds out the red zippy top so I can push my arms in and I’m looking down to see if it’s the strawberry top and she zips me up fast and fast.
OW! HOT-STINGY-OW! OW! OW!”
This is a significant part of the novel because it demonstrates Jesika’s character at the beginning of the story. Jesika has come to preschool without the right tshirt on. It’s a Rainbow day and Jesika has come without any “red” on. Jesika’s favourite colour is green so she came with a green outfit on, instead. All Jesika is concerned about though, is whether or not her Mummy has bought the red strawberry t-shirt. When she tries to look, Tina, her Mummy pulls the zip up too fast, and accidentally knocks her chin. Jesika, at 4 years old blames her Mummy for hurting her. This was well written. As someone who has worked with little children, I can say that the author captured the character of them well. This happens before the twist in the story.
When Paige, another young girl of Jesika’s age is introduced, Jesika gets a friend.
“I run to the house corner and she’s still there squeezed right under the table cept now she’s lying down on the cushion that’s apposed to be on the play bed and she’s got the blanket that I tucked baby in and it’s covering her all up, cept her face, and she’s sucking her thumb, and she’s got her eyes closed and I think she might actually be asleep which is very strange cos preschool’s not a sleeping place, it’s a playing place.”
This is the first time Jesika sees the new girl, Paige. She doesn’t understand why Paige is sleeping at preschool. She thinks she should be playing like everyone else. What Jesika doesn’t understand is that Paige is new so she doesn’t have any friends yet and she doesn’t know the routine at the preschool. Again, as someone who has worked with little children, I know that they are all different. What one needs, isn’t necessarily what another needs.
Jesika’s Mummy and little brother have to go into hospital part way in “Home”. This means that Jesika has to go and be looked after by strangers. She is obviously scared by this as she’s only ever known her mummy to look after her.
Jesika mentions her father (Daddy) and Bab Bab (grandmother) a little bit, throughout the book but her daddy lives in Poland, and her Bab Bab died before the novel takes place, so we never actually see them. “I know Poland. My Daddy went to live there” shows just how aware Jesika is, when her mum and brother are in the hospital, and she’s being looked after by a nurse called Paulina, who’s from Poland, as well.
When the topic of abuse comes in to the story, it turns a little darker. We see Jesika worry about Paige, not quite understanding what is wrong but just knowing that something is. Ryan is Paige’s uncle. One night, at a sleepover where Ryan is looking after both her and Paige, during bath time, Jesika hears scary noises. She isn’t sure what these are to begin with, just that they don’t sound good. Ryan tells Jesika not to tell anyone what she heard, otherwise bad things will happen to her. This obviously scares Jesika to the point where she doesn’t tell anyone. Does Jesika tell the truth in the end, though? You’ll have to read to find out.
Also, what happens about Jesika’s living situation, with her family? Does she get fostered/adopted or do her mummy and brother get better? Does she move house to somewhere safer? You’ll again have to read to find out!
What did I like about “Home”?
I loved reading from Jesika’s perspective. She’s such a funny, little character. Even though, a lot of the events of “Home” are really serious, reading about them from Jesika’s perspective made them seem fun and light hearted.
I loved the friendship aspect “Home” had. Jesika tried to help Paige lots, throughout the book. This makes her an incredibly brave protagonist. For example, when she chooses what to do about Ryan’s lies, especially considering how young she is.
I loved how dramatic Jesika was! She was always adding her own commentary in her head to what adults were discussing. These were often really funny! I love first person stories anyway, but reading Jesika’s perspective was hilarious!
I loved Jesika’s use of language in “Home”. It was really entertaining and cute to read words in her way. Hospipal instead of hospital, for example. The author clearly did some research about how little ones speak.
I liked how there were actually parents in “Home”. In sooo many books we see children without their parents. That’s not the case, here, as Jesika’s mother is there, throughout.
What didn’t I like about “Home”?
I didn’t really see much setting description, apart from Jesika’s run down home. This is a contemporary novel, told from a child’s perspective so that might have been why the setting descriptions were a little lack lustre but it would have been nice to be able to picture everywhere in the book, clearly. This really does not detract from the story in any way, though!
Overall then, I LOVED “Home”! That’s why I’m giving it...5 Stars!!! I can definitely see it being on my favourites list at the end of the year!
Does “Home” sound like something you’d enjoy? Have you already read it? What did you think if you have? Will you be picking it up based on this review?