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What a Way to Go by Julia Forster
  

What a Way to Go

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January 2016 Debut of the Month.

Sharp, poignant and amusing, this is a beautifully observed novel about growing up during the 80’s as a child of divorced parents. The prologue is short, quirky and full of feeling, it sets the stage perfectly for what is to come. 12 year old Harper is different, her friends include her dictionary, a lady riddled with dementia, and the (dead) occupants of a graveyard. Julia Forster writes with a light, yet spiky and witty touch, however deeper darker tones lie in wait. The descriptive detail is stunning, images danced across my consciousness as I read. The humour slides across the page, there were parts that made me belly laugh out loud and others that caused me to wince, to pause and think. ‘What a Way To Go" touches on pain, death and sadness, yet the unpredictable, entertaining and often ludicrous side of life shines through, this is a wonderfully engaging debut, and I highly recommend it. ~ Liz Robinson

Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can click here to read the full reviews.

  • Sharon Butler - 'This was one of those "bubblegum" books that took no real effort, yet was a complete joy to read.  Highly recommended, especially for those that grew up in the 1980's!'
  • Dawn Lynch - 'A great debut novel.'
  • Josie Barton - 'This is an imaginative and quirky coming of age story which looks at the power of love, the value of friends and family and the strength and courage of a wise and witty twelve year old girl.'
  • Gill Dally-Fitzsimons - 'A nostalgic reminder of the 1980s.  A must read for anyone growing up in this decade.'
  • Angie Rhodes - 'This is a book for everyone with a zest for life, from age twelve to a hundred, I laughed out loud, cried, and did not want it to end.'
  • Sarah Harper - 'This gloriously bittersweet gem of a book will strike a chord with anyone who grew up in the 1980’s.'
  • Phylippa Smithson - 'Oh, this one is good, so very good.  Heart-breaking, humorous and thought provoking.  Thank you Julia Foster for a brilliant debut novel.'
  • Alexandra Harper-Williams - 'A life-affirming, funny, thought-provoking and really moving book, not just an entertaining account from the 80s. Fantastic debut novel by a very promising author!'
  • Katie Hoare - 'Julia Forster has created a lovely protagonist who is endearing, warm, intelligent, and funny, whilst showing what is like for a girl to be growing up in the late 1980s.'
  • Hannah Smith - 'I cannot get over how brilliant this book was; an incredibly impressive debut novel.  I felt every emotion whilst reading this book - from sadness to hope to happiness - and never wanted it to end.'
  • Sarah Web - 'One for teens of the ‘80s...Harper tells the story in quite a light hearted way, but some of the threads and scenes are very poignant.  An enjoyable read.'
  • Nicola Laverty - 'I found the many cultural references to be beautifully evocative of the late 1980s, particularly the music, which put me right back there.'
  • Edel Waugh - 'The story is bittersweet and thought provoking with a feel good centre plus plenty of quirky characters who are very likeable.'
  • Jan Kirkcaldy - ' It’s a fantastic insight into how such events affect everyday life for youngsters often left confused and bewildered by their new unchosen circumstances.... It gave me food for thought whilst being both interesting and very enjoyable. Well worth reading.'
  • Lesley Hart - 'Julia Forster writes in the dispassionate style, typical of a near-teen discussing events surrounding 'their World'. I enjoyed reading Harper's reactions to the events that are dealt to her family!'
  • Melanie Chadwick - 'I grew up in the 1980s, so I liked all the eighties references, and the gooseberry jam and old ladies at sales of work also resonated.'

Synopsis

What a Way to Go by Julia Forster

1988. 12-year-old Harper Richardson's parents are divorced. Her mum got custody of her, the Mini, and five hundred tins of baked beans. Her dad got a mouldering cottage in a Midlands backwater village and default membership of the Lone Rangers single parents' club. Harper got questionable dress sense, a zest for life, two gerbils, and her Chambers dictionary, and the responsibility of fixing her parents' broken hearts...Set against a backdrop of high hairdos and higher interest rates, pop music and puberty, divorce and death, What a Way to Go is a warm, wise and witty tale of one girl tackling the business of growing up while those around her try not to fall apart.

Reviews

What a fabulous novel! So fresh, touching, truthful and laugh-out-loud funny. I absolutely loved it. -- Deborah Moggach I hugely, entirely enjoyed this book. What a Way to Go is richly transporting - and so funny, and so moving. Julia Forster has all the marks of a prize-winning novelist; you know it from the first pages. -- Horatio Clare A brilliant debut. Sharp, sweet, bristling with wit and full of hilarious, wildly imaginative observations. In Harper Julia Forster has created a bold and distinctive 12 year old voice that manages to be nostalgic and authentic at the same time. -- Emma Jane Unsworth, author of 'Animals
I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish. Harper is such a lovable, funny character, and seeing the the 1980s through her eyes is both moving and revealing. I loved the

'mis-en-scene'
of Blackbrake, the whole small town atmosphere where the skies are as grey as her

'school uniform', and I thought the monstrously selfish but somehow sympathetic Mum is a great comic creation. Above all, I thought Harper's tone was perfectly judged, that mix of knowingness, naivete, and humour was great. It deserves to do really well. I will put a 5 star review on Amazon! -- Francis Gilbert I haven't enjoyed a book this much in ages. It's wonderful... Harper [is] an amazing protagonist - all the things I wanted to be at that age but probably never was - bright, funny, inquisitive, happy in her own skin. -- Megan Bradbury, author of 'Everyone Is Watching'
Oh, this one is good, so very good. Heart

-breaking, humorous and thought provoking. Thank you Julia Foster for a brilliant debut novel. -- Phylippa Smithson for lovereading.co.uk Poignant, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny and a fabulous portrait of the time. Woman & Home As a first novel it has promise, with some sensitive writing and funny lines. The Scotsman This is a bittersweet tale of one girl just at the cusp of becoming a young woman with a burgeoning mind of her own, and a blossoming sense of life's possibilities. The Western Mail What a Way to Go is very funny and warm, sometimes sad, always beautifully written and just a ... joy [to read]. -- Hayley Long, blogger and author, twice nominated for the Costa Award What A Way To Go is funny and sharp and it's a treat to hang out with Harper as she and her Chambers dictionary flit between her Midlands parental homes. Emerald Street What a joy to read... Julia Forster's assured debut novel marks the start of a brilliant writing career. Reader's Digest This amusing coming-of-age novel, narrated by 12-year old Harper Richardson, is full of humour, often of the black variety... this gauche yet likable character emerges chrysalis-like, a bit more armoured for the next stage of her young life. Irish Examiner


About the Author

Julia Forster

Julia Forster was born and raised in the Midlands. She studied Philosophy and Literature at the University of Warwick and has a Masters in Creative Writing from St Andrews University. While at the University of Warwick, she was awarded the Derek Walcott prize for creative writing. She works in publishing, but has also been a magician's assistant in Brooklyn, a nanny in Milan and a waitress in Chartres. Julia now lives in mid Wales with her husband and two young children.

Author photo © Alice Hendy

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Book Info

Publication date

7th January 2016

Author

Julia Forster

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Author's Website

www.julia-forster.com/
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Publisher

Atlantic Books

Format

Paperback
304 pages

Categories

Family Drama
Debuts of the Month
Literary Fiction
Reading Groups
Relationship Stories
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)

ISBN

9781782397526

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