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Unbecoming
by Jenny Downham


Overview - Three women. Three generations. Three secrets.
Katie's life is falling apart: her best friend thinks she's a freak, her mother, Caroline, controls every aspect of her life, and her estranged grandmother, Mary, appears as if out of nowhere.
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More About Unbecoming by Jenny Downham
 
 
 
Overview
Three women. Three generations. Three secrets.
Katie's life is falling apart: her best friend thinks she's a freak, her mother, Caroline, controls every aspect of her life, and her estranged grandmother, Mary, appears as if out of nowhere. Mary has dementia and needs lots of care, and when Katie starts putting together Mary's life story, secrets and lies are uncovered: Mary's illegitimate baby, her zest for life and freedom and men; the way she lived her life to the full yet suffered huge sacrifices along the way. As the relationship between Mary and Caroline is explored, Katie begins to understand her own mother's behavior, and from that insight, the terrors about her sexuality, her future, and her younger brother are all put into perspective.
Funny, sad, honest, and wise, this powerful multigenerational novel from international bestseller Jenny Downham celebrates life like no book before.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780545907170
  • ISBN-10: 0545907179
  • Publisher: David Fickling Books
  • Publish Date: February 2016
  • Page Count: 384
  • Reading Level: Ages 14-UP
  • Dimensions: 8.5 x 6.2 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Juvenile Fiction > Girls & Women
Books > Juvenile Fiction > Family - General

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2015-11-23
  • Reviewer: Staff

Downham (You Against Me) examines the family battles and internal conflicts of three generations of women in this novel about a household in crisis. Seventeen-year-old Katies life takes an unexpected turn when her estranged grandmother Mary, diagnosed with Alzheimers, moves into their small apartment. While Katies mother tries to find another place for Mary to stay, Katie is drawn to the elderly stranger, a woman tormented by a past she cant reliably remember. Even though Katie already has her share of responsibilities, trying to meet her mothers high standards and looking after her disabled brother, she offers to become Marys caretaker. She is determined to unlock secrets about Marys history but doesnt realize how her own past is intertwined with her grandmothers. Alternating between Katies and Marys point of view, Downham shows extraordinary skill in expressing the complex psychologies of two very different women while exploring how people are shaped by events, unrealized dreams, and restrictions. The more answers Katie finds, the more she realizes that she will have to become someone new in order to be true to herself. Ages 14up. Agent: Catherine Clarke, Felicity Bryan Associates. (Feb.)

 
BookPage Reviews

Before memories slip away

BookPage Teen Top Pick, March 2016

Painful family secrets may be at the heart of the latest novel by British author Jenny Downham, but families change and grow over time, and there is peace and healing just within reach. 

Seventeen-year-old Katie first meets her grandmother, Mary, in the hospital. Mary suffers from dementia, and her husband recently died from a massive heart attack. Despite being estranged from Mary for years, Katie’s mother, Caroline, is Mary’s emergency contact. When Caroline must return to work, Katie becomes the main caregiver for Mary, and she quickly realizes that her grandmother’s memories are deteriorating before her eyes. However, the more Mary and Katie interact and take risks together, the more Mary’s memories return, resulting in long-buried family secrets coming to the surface. As Katie struggles with her identity and Mary struggles with her memories, these stories unravel, exposing revelations about all three generations of women.

Downham delivers an engrossing and emotional novel, complete with a thread of historical fiction that employs Mary’s flashbacks as the backdrop to the story. With tremendous finesse, Downham pulls readers into the mind of someone suffering from Alzheimer’s, a place where memories quickly fall out of reach. The story is fluid, perfectly paced and can be easily read in one sitting. This is a heartfelt book that sensitively and honestly reveals family issues, and it’s one that teens won’t want to miss.

 

This article was originally published in the March 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
BAM Customer Reviews