The Museum of You by Carys Bray

    The Museum of You by Carys Bray explores the relationship between a young girl, Clover, and her father, Darren, following the death of her mother when she was a baby. Now twelve, Clover  has been allowed to have a key and spends the long summer holiday seeing to the allotment and amusing herself. Spurred on by a visit to the Liverpool Maritime Museum, she decides to create an exhibition of things which she believes are connected to her mother, which have been stored in a spare bedroom at home. In the absence of actual known facts about her mother, Clover devises her own version of what sort of person she was. Meanwhile, her father, a bus driver, worries about her, unaware that she is trying to make sense of the accumulation of objects which he has never faced up to sorting out. He has kept secrets about the past to himself which we gradually learn, as he faces up to his grief. We discover that Clover is a capable young girl with tremendous commonsense. She just gets on with things but longs to know the mother she never really met. 

    On the surface, the story may appear quite straightforward and fairly simple. In fact there is a depth to all the relationships. Uncle Jim, Clover's mother's brother is a case in point. As the story progresses, we learn more about their back stories. Despite the sadness surrounding Clover's early life, this is an uplifting read and one in which we see the characters develop. We are given both Clover and Darren's perspectives. I thought that Clover's narrative voice reflected the fact that although she is still a child, she is also an adolescent with growing self awareness. There was plenty of scope for humour in the book, particularly in the friendship which Clover has with her neighbour, Mrs Mackerel. 

    This is a book about relationships between family and friends, letting go of the past and nurturing memories. I found the latter stages of the book the most satisfying part.

In short: a touching exploration of family relationships and coming to terms with loss.  

Thanks to the publishers, Hutchinson, for a copy of the book via NetGalley. 

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