Real life is a balancing act just now – between trying to manage things and carry on as normal, whilst at the same time, wrestling with the idea that absolutely nothing is normal and everything has shifted beneath our feet. I think that’s why I got so engrossed in this book. A good read often works because it taps into something in your psyche and scares you because you recognise that feeling – and Julie Lancaster has definitely pulled this off with aplomb in The Weight of Small Things.
I loved the name of this novel and I felt that it really managed to convey something of the darkness and pain at its heart. As well as having a very distinct voice, this novel also is extremely skilful in its evocation of young Frankie and how she ic coping when her whole world has tumbled to the ground round about her – as this is very much how it feels for her as this novel progresses.
This is a deft and captivating debut novel that knows how to engage an audience with a character we truly care about and see her coping with things we would never wish her to have to wrestle with. Frankie’s unique way of trying to reconcile what is going on around her with her child’s eye view of events has reminded some readers of Eleanor Oliphant, or The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime – but I’d say that Frankie is a character who is wholly unique and it is her way of processing the difficult and unfathomable things in her life that make such an impact on the reader.
Frankie’s relationships are also convincingly drawn and her struggles to understand the often highly complete adult interactions around her is sympathetically described by Julie Lancaster. The narrative structure of this novel means that you are constantly questioning the information you’ve been given, just like Frankie is. Are the adults around you telling you the truth – or merely the truth as they’d like you to see it? Switching from the present day back through Frankie’s like in unique little snippets is a very effective method for making us understand what Frankie’s life feels like for her and draws us into her story – like kneeling down to get to a child’s level and seeing things as they see it.
The Weight of Small Things is ar times a dark and unsettling read that asks you to think about difficult subject matter – such as suicide and mental illness so readers should be aware of this idf these are things that they find challenging . It poses interesting questions about nature and nurture and what makes Frankie so uniquely herself, despite everything she’s already gne through in her young life. I enjoyed its strong narrative voice and the fact that it definitely held my interest throughout a sunny lockdown afternoon. I devoured it in one sitting in my garden and think you’ll definitely love it too if you are looking for a fresh, original and unique summer read over the next few months.
Writer On The Shelf
Julie Lancaster lives in Staffordshire where she was born. She worked in academic and public libraries – writing in her spare time. She has been a travel agent, a university admissions assistant and a volunteer counsellor. She loves true crime and crime fiction. This is her first novel.