"I've got to get out of that house." Janey looked almost small, walking past these angled girders.
–Margo Lanagan - Touching earth lightly - c.1996 - pg.1
Growing up is hard. Even when you have encouraging responsibly parents, like Chloe. When you don’t, when your parents are like Janey’s, consistently putting you in harms way and causing your damage how do you cope? Chloe and Janey are best friends, they live their lives entwined in each other. Chloe is sensible and practical. She keeps Janey somewhat rooted. But nothing can keep janey from trouble. Free-spirited is a charitable description of her life-style. Some of the girls from her school used much harsher terms, she was worse than a prostitute, she didn’t even charge for what she did in the boy’s toilets! But free-spirited is the more accurate description. Janey can’t see the dangers in her life. Or perhaps it is because she has so many that she doesn’t look for an escape. There are no ways out for her.
This is one of those books where there isn’t a whole lot of plot, but the characters are so wonderful that you don’t really notice until you come to the end and try and recap the story and find that to do so would be to spoil what little there is. This isn’t a criticism of the book though, because I thoroughly loved it. Both Chloe and Janey were so real and so entertaining.
And the writing! Lanagan certainly has a gift with words, she can write passages that in another’s hands might come across as clumsy, mawkish and overly sentimental, but from her they are just painful depictions of grief and trying to deal with tragedy and loss.
It really is a heartbreaking book and one that I think will stay with me. Highly recommended.
I couldn’t find any other reviews of this book, if you’ve read & reviewed it let me know and I’ll add a link.