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The Crack Magazine

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Book of the Month: Milk Teeth by Jessica Andrews

Sunderland’s Jessica Andrews scored a big hit with her debut novel ‘Saltwater’ (which won the Portico Prize), and ‘Milk Teeth’ shares something of the same DNA. ‘Saltwater’ was about a young woman moving away from her north-east roots to try and find herself. ‘Milk Teeth’, meanwhile, sees the protagonist (another young woman – unnamed) moving from Bishop Auckland to London. “I wanted to go beyond the borders of the life that was set out for me,” she says, “to stand on the threshold and see the world beyond it, but stepping off the edge came with a cost I did not anticipate.” She moves to London and we catch up with her as she begins a relationship with a man (also unnamed) she meets at a party. The story then alternates between the present – detailing the love affair with all its attendant joys, hopes and gnawing fears – and the woman’s past. We learn of her relationship with her mother, and friends, as she gets older and starts to become insecure about body issues. In the present, we follow her from London to Barcelona. There’s also a brief sojourn to Paris, which is evocatively sketched. Andrews’ sentences are like plum puddings. Rich. Satisfying. And she often uses verbs – spill, spilt, bleed, leaks – that suggest a messy life. Our heroine does have a messy life – don’t we all – but it’s presented here in a way that sees truth pouring off every page. RM

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