I can’t believe this is a debut!!!
That’s not to say that I have low expectations when it comes to debuts, I feel like I should have been reading Elissa Soave’s work for years!
Firstly, thanks to Joanne over at Portobello Book Blog, for putting Ginger and Me on my radar, I read her review of it a couple of weeks ago and bought it immediately, started reading it straight away.
Wendy is lonely but coping.
All nineteen-year-old Wendy wants is to drive the 255 bus around Uddingston with her regulars on board, remember to buy milk when it runs out and just to be okay. After her mum died, there’s nobody to remind her to eat and what to do each day.
And Wendy is ready to step out of her comfort zone.
Each week she shows her social worker the progress she’s made, like the coasters she bought to spruce up the place, even if she forgets to make tea. And she even joins a writers’ group to share the stories she writes, like the one about a bullied boy who goes to Mars.
But everything changes when Wendy meets Ginger.
A teenager with flaming orange hair, Ginger’s so brave she’s wearing a coat that isn’t even waterproof. For the first time, Wendy has a real best friend. But as they begin the summer of their lives, Wendy wonders if things were simpler before. And that’s before she realizes just how much trouble Ginger is about to get them in…
This book is superb!
Set in the Viewpark area of North Lanarkshire, Ginger and Me is the story of two lonely, lost young women.
Wendy has not been in a good place following the death of her mum; they were incredibly close but Wendy, who to be fair doesn’t fit in, has been sheltered and protected by her mum her entire life to the point where she doesn’t know how to function without her.
Wendy has never had a real friend, until a chance meeting with Ginger who gets on her bus one rainy day.
Both girls are naïve, both have dealt with far more than they should have, they both need each other.
This book will take you on an emotional rollercoaster; without saying too much, the beginning of this book introduces you to Wendy while she’s in prison, so there is a sense of foreboding throughout Ginger and Me, we know something bad is going to happen along the way.
I loved Wendy. It’d be far too easy for her to have been a character you just felt sorry for. Yes, there were times I really felt for her, she’d been bullied through school, her dad was an alcoholic, and she was misunderstood but there is so much more to her.
She is resilient, she is able to stand up for herself, she can – to an extent – look after herself, she’s caring, she’s kind and she’s funny.
Wendy’s autistic, a diagnosis her mum never accepted. It’s meant she hasn’t really managed to connect with anyone before, her mum’s pretty much ran her life and that’s done Wendy no favours.
There are huge contradictions to Wendy’s character, she is capable and has a lot of insight when it comes to certain situations yet can’t see how deeply troubled Ginger is.
Wendy longs to be a writer and develops an obsession with local author Diane Weston. Wendy believes they’re friends, that they have a deep connection, they understand each other and in Wendy style, she takes it too far. Wendy can’t see that Diane isn’t her friend, refuses to listen any kind of reasoning on this front.
Ginger looks up to Wendy, she relies on her to save her. It is clear that there’s something very disturbing happening in Ginger’s life. She is troubled, she needs help, yet Wendy can’t see that.
Wendy can’t see that there are plenty of people who do genuinely care about her, I found it quite sad that she didn’t understand her ability to make an impact on the lives of others, even in a small way.
This is a fantastic read, it’s about a friendship and trying to build a life. There are some tough subjects tackled as Soave slowly reveals more about Wendy and Ginger’s upbringings. The characters are wonderful, from the regulars on Wendy’s bus to her writing group – they were all recognisable, even the less savoury characters the girls come into contact with.
It’s a book that highlights the ways people fall through the cracks in society. What happens when someone doesn’t have a proper support system or loving family around them.
There are moments that are laugh out loud funny, it’s a story that has a lot of tenderness, yet it is tinged with sadness, there’s a big dollop of harsh reality that these girls never really stood a chance.
It is a fantastic book and an extraordinary debut; it’s lead characters will tug at your heart and take you on a journey. I can’t wait to see more from Elissa Soave.
Have you read this Ginger and Me? What did you think?
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