Ginger and Me by Elissa Soave | #bookreview | @elissa_soave @HQStories

Ginger and Me was published yesterday by HQ. It’s the debut novel from Elissa Soave and it’s excellent. Elissa Soave has created some unforgettable characters who you will take to your heart.

About the book

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…

An unforgettable debut novel from the winner of the Primadonna Prize 2019 which will stay with you long after the last page.

My Thoughts

I absolutely loved Ginger and Me from the very first pages. Wendy is a character you will immediately take to heart. She has her own unique way of looking at the world which makes her rather vulnerable, as she takes things at face value. She is a creature of habit, routines are very important to her and she’s rather socially inept. After her mother’s death, really all she is looking for is someone to be close to and to love her. Not a grand passion necessarily but a more simple kind of love. “…sometimes people forget, love can be… wanting to bake a coffee cake for someone, or asking them if they are warm enough, making them feel clean and safe and looked after.”

Her world is changed by Ginger, a teenager Wendy meets on the bus she is driving and Diane, a writer she follows on Twitter and who in Wendy’s mind anyway she befriends. Wendy really relates to Diane’s writing and often feels she’s speaking directly to her, “We all have a story to tell. Women matter. Working class voices matter. Your story matters.” The problem is that Wendy makes much more of this connection than really exists and her behaviour veers towards stalkerish. Some of what Wendy believes about this ‘friendship’ made me squirm!

I found Ginger a bit harder to warm to initially as it seemed she was taking advantage of Wendy’s naivety, but I soon realised she was just a young girl with a terrible home life. She really needed a friend to watch out for her. For all her faults, she made me want to reach out and give her a hug and as the story progressed I was so desperately sad for her. I wanted to take her away from the awful life she was living. I had a lump in my throat when she told Wendy she didn’t like to read about nice things and a better life as “sometimes it’s worse to dream then wake up and have it snatched away from you”.

Ginger and Me is a book you read with a sense of foreboding as when we first meet Wendy, she’s in Polmont Prison clearly having been involved in some kind of terrible crime that she doesn’t quite seem to understand. She tells her story looking back and throughout the book she refers to things going wrong. As a reader, you can tell that these things involve Ginger and her family but Wendy in her innocence can’t see that.

Ginger and Me is a wonderful debut novel. It’s heart-breaking at times but also warmly funny and so wise. Wendy and Ginger are characters I will remember for a long time. It’s an excellent debut novel with a distinctly Scottish voice and I can’t wait to see what Elissa Soave writes next.

Ginger and Me is published by HQ and available now in hardback, ebook and audiobook formats.
My thanks to the publishers for sending me a copy for review.

About the Author

Elissa Soave won the inaugural Primadonna Prize in 2019. She was also a Bloody Scotland Pitch Perfect finalist 2019 and has had work published in New Writing ScotlandGutterStructo and The Glasgow Review of Books. She’s had two short plays performed by the Short Attention Span Theatre Group and has performed at various spoken word events. She currently lives in South Lanarkshire and Ginger and Me is her debut novel.


3 thoughts on “Ginger and Me by Elissa Soave | #bookreview | @elissa_soave @HQStories

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