Anna Who by

Saturday October 8th. 1:48 according to my pound-shop watch, purchased by Terry, the only brother I choose to acknowledge in this dysfunctional family.
–Bernadette Leach - Anna Who - c.1994

So last week on twitter I spotted this tweet :

And so I took a look on our catalogue and there was the book, two copies in fact, in the store. So on impulse I said, “ah sure I’ll give it a go.” [ref]in my very best fake Oirish accent, to be shure[/ref] and now I’m just wondering why I didn’t read this when I was a teenager.[ref]I know why, at 15 pretty much all I read was Centre Line and the library’s sff section. So if this got shelved in the juvenile section I wouldn’t have come across it. I don’t think we had YA sections back then… [/ref] The narrator is almost the same age as me, back in 94 I’d’ve been 15, so Anna is perfect as a nostalgia character for me now, thinking back on the nineties.

Anna is adopted, a fact she’s always known, but now that she is getting older she is wondering about her “real” mam, or her nine-month mother as she refers to her. She’s also wondering why she gets landed with all the housework, why can’t her brothers and younger sister help out. Why is she always the one bringing down their washing and tidying up after them.

And then, according to the blurb, “something terrible happens”.

Anna Who?I really enjoyed this story. I’m so glad that I gave into impulse and nabbed it. And I’m so glad that I spotted that tweet by Sarah Webb. [ref]I’ll have to read some of her books now, I know she’s very popular at work but sooo many books!!! [/ref]

It would have been nice to read the book when I was younger, there aren’t a huge number that I can remember being set in Ireland. There was one about some girls who ran away from home and ended up in a bad situation in Dublin. And another about an actor called Buddy? Was that the name of the book too? And something about bicycle thieves…. But as I said, I was more into devouring sff at the time, of which I can’t remember any Irish authors back then. There must have been some, but not in my local library.

Anna is a great narrator, she’s so self-involved in many ways and yet so worried about taking care of everyone else in the family. And so obsessed with the notion that she doesn’t belong because she was adopted. She is smart though, and she recognises that others in the family feel like outsiders even though they weren’t adopted. She is also kind and interested in other people, and in what is going on in their lives. This is a book all about the little details in a person’s life, about growing up and dealing with all the huge dramas that being a teenager involves. You know, the ones that when you’re all grown up mean so very little, but when you are fourteen are everything.

And it was such a readable book, I’d sit down to read a few pages and before you know it I was half way through the story. Great writing, I’ll have to check out what else we have be Leach in the library’s stores as I think all her titles are Out of Print.

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3 Responses

  1. jenclair says:

    I like the sound of this one, too. I saw that tweet, but didn’t pursue it!
    jenclair´s last blog post ..How Children Succeed by Paul Tough