Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Museum of You ~ Carys Bray (earc) review [@CarysBray @HutchinsonBooks]

The Museum of You
June 16, 2016
368 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon UK

Clover Quinn was a surprise. She used to imagine she was the good kind, now she’s not sure. She’d like to ask Dad about it, but growing up in the saddest chapter of someone else’s story is difficult. She tries not to skate on the thin ice of his memories.

Darren has done his best. He's studied his daughter like a seismologist on the lookout for waves and surrounded her with everything she might want - everything he can think of, at least - to be happy.

What Clover wants is answers. This summer, she thinks she can find them in the second bedroom, which is full of her mother's belongings. Volume isn't important, what she is looking for is essence; the undiluted bits: a collection of things that will tell the full story of her mother, her father and who she is going to be.

But what you find depends on what you're searching for.

"[G]rowing up in the saddest chapter of someone else’s story is difficult. "  It was the cover that first made me notice The Museum of You but it was that particular part of the book's description that really made me want to read it. It wasn't just the wonderful phrasing I loved, but how you feel like you know Clover a little bit just from that. It's an incredibly sad thing to think, to feel but also so matter-of-fact.

The Museum of You can be heartbreaking: "When asked by the careers teacher to list ten things he wanted to get out of life, [he] didn't think to include happiness," and the cover image perfectly illustrates how Clover and Darren really are separate from each other, both impacted by the loss of Clover's mother but dealing with it on their own.  The more of Darren's story we learn and the more of Clover's item explanations we read, the more you feel for both of them and the more you want them to talk to each other, to help each other heal.

At the same time, it's funny, Mrs. Mackerel and her confused, wrongly worded phrases and sayings somehow still get the point across but are moments of levity.

It is also a hopeful story. Even as you're aware of Clover and Darren's pain, of how not knowing her mother has affected her and how remembering their past has affected him, it's clear how much they both do love each other. You want for them to be able not only talk to each other, but to move forward with their lives, as well. (And their are hints that they just may be able to do both.)

I loved the writing of The Museum of You, the way we got both Clover and Darren's narratives, how their loss has impacted them both (the more obvious outward ways and the inner ways both), the different characters in their lives (most of whom truly were characters) and how their story came together.

digital review copy received thanks to publisher, via NetGalley

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