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The Vanishing of Margaret Small

"A stunning character portrait – once you set foot in Margaret Small’s world, it’s impossible to leave until you know how her story ends. "

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LoveReading Says

LoveReading Says

A little warning upfront: this story is likely to break your heart. But it will also fill your soul with joy and hope … and have you laughing out loud at moments too! It’s 1947 and Margaret is only seven years old when she ‘vanishes’ to St Mary’s, a home for children with physical and learning disabilities. Some 68 years later, our heroine is struggling to come to terms with the death of lifelong idol, Cilla Black. She knows it's time to move on – but how can she when her precious ‘C’ keeps reaching out with personal letters and gifts? There’s so much to love in Neil Alexander’s tender debut. Margaret’s relationship with carer Wayne is gorgeously authentic, and although not always an easy read, the first-person narrative crackles with pathos. But the real magic of the novel is Margaret’s strength of spirit. Each tragic episode chips away at her resolve– abandonment, assault, cruelty, loss and heartbreak – but in spite of it all, she never gives up hope. In The Vanishing of Margaret Small, Alexander has created a poignant and important novel about difference, and how the treatment of people with learning disabilities has evolved over time. Yes, it is full of sadness, but all of this is perfectly balanced with moments of uplifting warmth. We’re reminded people can be kind, and that with the right support around us, we can all make something of our lives, whatever obstacles we’ve had to overcome in the process. An absorbing, thought-provoking and skilful debut.

Lindsay Quayle

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