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The Crack Magazine



Jessica Andrews, Sceptre

There are a lot of sweets in ‘Saltwater’. Fruit Polos, Caramacs and fizzy cola bottles all make an appearance in Jessica Andrews’ coming of age debut novel and I put this down to the fact that sweets awaken and enliven our memories like nothing else. The past we’re concerned with here is Lucy’s who grew up in Sunderland before attending university in London. She is now living at her recently deceased grandfather’s cottage in Ireland. The chapters are never more than a page or two long (and often just consist of a single paragraph) and the narrative has been shuffled, so we’re with Lucy in Ireland on one page, and then back with her in Sunderland on the next. This may sound like a recipe for confusion but it works perfectly, the author building up a multi-layered portrait of Lucy and her family (the relationship with her mother is especially well drawn). There is no grand overarching story – rather like in reality – but the astute observations of working class life pour off every page and succeed in keeping your interest pegged nice and high throughout.    

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