All Dora Judd every told anyone about that night three weeks before Christmas was that she won the painting in a raffle.
–Sarah Winman - Tin man - c.2017
My book club chose this for the January meeting, and although I hadn’t even started it when the book club met at the beginning of the month I thought I’d give it a try anyway. I do remember seeing very positive mentions of it online last year but never felt the inclination to read it.
Luckily for me book club selections mean I pick up books I otherwise wouldn’t have because I loved this book.It is a story of friendship and romance and love and loss and grief, so a bit of everything. And all beautifully told. Easy to read but full of emotion.
It is also the story of finding your way in the world, of escaping what’s expected of you and finding what you love.
It could be said to fall under that “tragic gay love” story trope, but I think it is a better book than that cliche conjures. So while it does have elements of lgbtq cliches I think that if it had ignored those aspects it would have been a bigger crime. Also while the difficulties of being a gay teenager are raised, they aren’t things that stop that love story, at least in my reading it is Ellis’ relationship with his father that drives him. The fear of his father.
Ellis is the Tin Man of the title, both literally, his job involves working with metal, and figuratively. At the start of the book he is withdrawn and living a heartless life. Not that he is cruel or anything, but he has withdrawn from feeling. The book tells the story of his journey towards letting himself feel again, as well as how he got to that space in his life.