Book Review: The Other Hand by Chris Cleave

29 Apr

“Once you have read it, you’ll want to tell everyone about it. When you do, please don’t tell them what happens either. The magic is in how it unfolds.” I’ve never agreed with the blurb of a book more. Chris Cleave’s quietly powerful novel manages to engross you from it’s first sentence. “Sometimes I wish I was a pound coin.” perhaps it’s these incredibly simplistic sentences that manage to captivate the reader. It enters your mind without any graces or claims to change your life yet Cleave’s grip on suffering and grief is so tight, it’ll captivate your mind and your heart.

The blurb on the back is deliberately vague as is my description of the book. Little Bee is released from a detention centre in London, the place she has come to after leaving her home of Nigeria. Sarah works as a magazine editor, she has a five year old son. Something dramatic has changed her life. The two have already met. That’s all I can divulge.

What I appreciated so much was Cleave’s gentle tone of sincerity to affect you so deeply that you would think about the characters long after you put the book down and his ability to really make your heart ache with emotion whether it’s adoration, hatred or sympathy.

The concept of using alternate first person narratives (changing between Sarah and Little Bee) is something that adds to the book’s effortless fluidity. Not only does it wrap the reader up in this story that little bit more, but in fact keeps the story fresh and stops it from turning laboured.

Rating: 4.5/5

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