The Girl With All The Gifts by M R Carey

I have recently finished reading ‘The Girl With All The Gifts’ by M R Carey, at points it is a book with great potential, some great characters and a storyline that keeps the readers interest. The potential however does not quite match up to the reality. All the things I would usually love in a book where here, futuristic dystopian theme, bold strong female characters, human strength against all odds, complex relationships between characters and a common enemy. The synopsis was certainly enticing, giving a brief snippet, just enough to wet the appetite as some may say, but not too much to give anything away. The book is written from the outside perspective, giving you, the reader, a good insight into the thoughts, perspectives and motivations of each of the characters. This also means that at various points throughout you can potentially back different characters, the writing style definitely helps to get you involved in the storyline. The story starts with Melanie and the basics of her existence, her limited experience of life highlighted by the discussion of the simple things around her, the pictures on the walls, and the ‘blue sticky stuff’ that holds them up, the corridor with all its cell doors and overheard conversations. This starting point really creates an image of an innocent child, a victim of an oppressive regime perhaps or being kept against her will by tyrants, her only insight into life are the simple surrounding stimuli in her otherwise bare cell. We are soon introduced to Miss Justineau, the writing style and language straight away insinuates the strong emotions she has for this woman, and the pull towards her. The little things Miss Justineau does, brings light into Melanie’s existence, the stories and books she reads to her class highlighted early on, I like this as these stories come into relevance later on in the story and help Melanie to understand he wider world as she explores it. This relationship is brought into the storyline early on to highlight its significance on the entire story. The subject of Pandora is introduced on p12, giving the book it’s name ‘The Girl With All The Gifts’ subtly slipping in ‘Pandora opening up the box and letting all the terrible things out’ Melanie thinks Pandora was set up and should not be blamed, I like the association here to Melanie having some ‘terrible’ things within her that she is not to blame for unleashing at some point and in fact she did not ask for, giving us the 2 sides to Melanie, the sweet innocent girl, and the monster within, yet to be seen.

We are set up by the writer to feel negativity towards Sergeant Parks as the story progresses when he is introduced after the backdrop of the innocent child and her caring teacher as he antagonizes one of the children, Kenny, and questions Miss Justineau’s teaching styles. A quick insight into the fact that all is not quite right with the not so innocent children. ‘You don’t want to get attached to them…you know what they’re here for’ on page 17 gets us asking ourselves, what are they here for? Miss Justineau is not ready to admit to herself the true reality of the children’s situation. Talk moves on to absent parents and the effect of this on Melanie, we the reader are led to empathize with her and see her human element. Melanie shows empathy too, ‘something about her is wounded and not healing, and hurting her all the time’ p26 talking about Miss Justineau, this empathetic element bringing for a millionth of a second a recognition within us, the reader, of the common ground the we share with Melanie, bringing further confusion within us about the human vs monster that we are being introduced too. Melanie’s naivety reminds us of her age when on p46 she states about Mr Whittaker another teacher, ‘He brings his bottle into class – the bottle full to the brim with the medicine that makes him first better and then worse’ as the story makes a reference to alcoholism as a way to cope with the life changing events that are at he backdrop of the story. As a reader and someone who has been a child of an alcoholic parent myself, I have to say, if alcoholism could be summed up in one sentence, this one may well be it.

As the story progresses we meet Dr Caldwell, a cold, determined and ambitious woman with her ‘Workshop of filthy creations’ p52. She is a driven, clinical and intelligent woman, we see that she engages in wrongful acts for the greater good and holds no guilt for this whatsoever but single mindedly strives towards her target of a cure for the disease that Melanie and so many others are inflicted with. It is hard for us as readers to truly feel any human compassion for her as the writing style leads us towards hatred for her. However I cannot help but wonder if the feeling towards her would be different if she had been a male character, and how gender stereotypes are bound up with this character. You cannot possibly be a woman and do the things she does, but a man would be seen as intelligent, striving for a cure, congratulated even, her actions go against our intrinsic ideas of what femininity means and signifies. We also see a stark contrast here between the intentions and the nature of Dr Caldwell and her research and Miss Justineau and her motherly instincts, our ideologies of what a women should be, bound up with the characters. The 2 women clash as each fights to defend what they believe in and what they hold dear to them. I am inclined to both hate and truly respect Dr Caldwell in equal measures at separate points in the story. Her intentions good as are Miss Justineau’s however certainly heading in a different direction. Dr Caldwells willingness to cross moral boundaries may well to associated with her failing to be choosen for the first wave of research and determined to prove her worth now, no matter what the cost. We the reader hope her research proves fruitful, as the story progresses further I find myself feeling more excited by it and really willing it on at even the last minute. The idea of morals and of moral boundaries is certainly a reoccurring theme in this story and questions what humans would do in this context or what they, or we would be capable of. This reflects societies own battle with what is right and what is wrong and where the line is drawn. We are emersed into This world with references of things we find familiar, towns and language, David Attenborough documentaries mentioned at one point, helping us to question our own moral standing and associate us with the decisions the characters have to make.

As the story progresses we see the true nature of the hungry pathogen and its effect on the globe and the environment all around the characters. We are taken on a journey as the characters battle not only against hungriest but against ‘Junkers’, essentially uninfected survivors, who for reasons which i cannot explain seem to target the survivors at the base, and group up to attack essentially other survivors, yet seem to be immune from attack from he hungries, their role is not quite believable and something there is missing in terms of their role in the story and their motivations. The story then progresses into a journey, driving and walking and moving forwards in a quest to reach beacon, the characters and relationships between them further enhanced and complicated on the journey. I enjoy the decision making parts, whereby the characters need to find solutions to what seem impossible tasks, Sgt Parks a life saving resource in these times. Mainly only really seeing Melanie as a ‘Little Monster’ until near the end whereby Sgt Parks endears himself to her, right before she takes a decision that goes against the grain of thought up until this point and Miss Justineau seemingly betraying her own race to be a leader and comforter of a new race. Once again the more the story progresses the more issues we see, how can Miss Justineau survive like this, how will this new race survive as their hunger will surely continue and will they satisfy it on each other?

The start of the story, at the base is enticing and seems to make progressive sense, however a lot of time is spent on it, once out of the base the story seems a little rushed, some issues are presented and we questions the validity of them. The relationships between the characters are believable and intriguing, however our allegiance switches in places as the story progresses, mainly for me due to Miss Justineau betraying the human race in favor of another less favorable option. The most disappointing part however of the whole story was the ending. It happened too quickly, there was not enough to it and seemed an easy way out for the writer. We are expecting some hope, some light at the end of the tunnel, in The Girl With All The Gifts, the light for humans is entirely switched off and the reader is just expected to embrace this, I cannot. Great potential, but sadly the ending leaves a lot to be desired. I was left with a feeling of undone, that something was yet to be said, never the story was over. A complex and intriguing novel, that never truly lives up to its potential.

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Top 5 children’s books, Autumn 2017, for a 2.5 year old book worm

So, my main reading material these days comes in the form of a delightful, rhyming, heartwarming tale accompanied by some intriguing pictures aimed at the boss in the household, namely my 2.5 year old son.  He loves a good read and his book collection is starting to overtake mine, which is really something.  We have certainly developed a small list of absolute favourites, go to books, ones that I know he will present to me on a daily basis, also ones that I am learning so well now that I could recite some of the words by memory alone, this is also quite something seeing as memory is not my strong point ordinarily.  A good children’s book is not just simply for bedtime in this house, they are also useful for waking up slowly, midmorning read, snuggle time, shoving in the direction of his other mum as soon as she comes through the door after work, and obviously our regular library trips.  Books seem to be a focal point for us and we share in our mutual love of the written word, I adore the fact that he is a bookworm and is following in mummy’s footsteps.  So I thought I would share with you our top 5 children’s books right now, bearing in mind his age, they are for the younger children and we do seem to angle towards a story with a lesson to learn or a solid meaning as well as the delightful rhyming stories, so here goes,

1. Room On The Broom by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

This one is most certainly at the top of the list, our copy has seen better days through pure over use, ‘The witch had a cat and a very tall hat’ the rhyming is captivating and we fell in love with the witches kind heart and soft nature as well as the charm of the mismatched family thrown together.  The tale is of a soft centred witch that takes kindly upon a dog, a bird and a frog and much to the cats dismay invites them all to join them on her humble broom.  Their adventures of dropping various items including her hat and bow whilst meeting these creatures are detailed.  In order to repay the kindness they save her from a dragon.  My boy loves to wave a stick chanting ‘iggety ziggety zaggety zoom’ and we most certainly value this books kind tale.

2. Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

This one is an oldie but most certainly a goodie, once again the rhyming aspect draws us in and makes the tale flow easily, it also helps my son to remember some words and increase his reading and speaking ability.  The pictures are a talking point for us as we have fun spotting the next character in the picture, then turn the page to see if we are right.  There are some popular well known characters featured in this one, making it easier to identify with.  This is one that I can recite without the book being in front of me, the ease at which both me and my son recall the words shows its capabilities as a tool for speech and language.  At the end of the story we are delighted to see all the characters sharing plum pie, enjoying each other’s company and the diverse bunch sharing in laughter and sweet treats.  A lovely tale with a happy ending.

3. Tiddler by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

Another from our favourite author Julia Donaldson.  Tiddler is accompanied by some wonderful and colourful pictures which we get lots of fun from naming the sea creatures and admiring the ocean.  The pictures accompany the words perfectly, almost as if you could tell the tale from the pictures alone.  We originally got Tiddler from the library and loved it that much we got our own copy.  ‘Tiddler was a fish with a big imagination.  He blew small bubbles but he told tall tales.’ The very ordinary looking story telling fish shows us that underneath a plain exterior can lie a world of imagination and adventures.  It takes just one other fish, Little Johnny Dory to take a liking to Tiddlers takes, for them to spread across the ocean.  Ultimately helping Tiddler to find his way home.  The added excitement of this book is that if you look closely you will find a fish that resembles The Gruffalo, I had to read this book many times to spot this.  So have a look through Tiddler and see if you can spot The Gruffalo!

4. The Lion Inside by Rachel Bright and Jimmy Field

Well this one is a beautiful story, it literally warmed up the cold cavities of my battered heart.  The sunny cover is a good start with its wonderful illustration of the lion and the mouse and the bright yellow colour.  The tale follows a tiny mouse, meek and small who got trod on and ignored.  All he wanted was to ‘make friends and join in’ so he goes in search of his roar.  There’s a page with the word ‘Roar’ in large print which is great for practicing roaring with your little one.  The lion was mightily important and ‘he loved showing the crowd he was made of strong stuff.’  The brave little mouse plucked up his courage deciding that ‘forever was such a long time to feel small’ a lesson many of us could do with learning, adults and kids alike.  He set off on a journey to find the lion and ask him to teach him to roar.  Throughout the book there are a few absolute cracking quotes, the sort you read and just have to let soak in for a few moments, I actually think this book speaks to me as much as it does my son.  In the end the mouse realises that the lion is scared of something too, so maybe not so different from himself.  The last page is the best ‘that day they both learned that, no matter your size, we all have a mouse and a lion inside.’  A perfect tale for those little ones who are a bit on the shy side or indeed the boisterous ones too.

5.  Mommy, Mama, and Me by Leslea Newman

As my son has 2 mummies, we actually brought this book online whilst we were pregnant.  As a lifelomg bookworm myself I appreciate the power of books and having a few books around featuring alternative families to the traditional model helps my son to feel like he is not alone and to normalise his parentage.  There are so many books featuring a mum and dad so this one helps to balance the scales as it were.  It is a simple tale of a families love for one another and the activities they engage in throughout the day, mommy and mama taking different roles in the little persons wellbeing and everyday experience.   The mutual love they share for this little one shines through.  It’s a quick read and is great for a quick cuddle and a book as well as a good one for him to read on his own due to the simplistic words, big bold font and a fairly small book.  The pictures are clear and help him to read some of the words by himself and recall the story.  Wonderful book for children with a mum and a dad too, or 2 daddies for that matter, as well as those with 2 mummies.  It can help to highlight different families to any child.  I would like to see 2 mummies or 2 daddies featured in stories rather than the story being about the 2 parents, that would truly normalise and help to encourage true diverse thinking.

So I hope you have enjoyed our top 5 right now reads, I’m sure these will change in future as he develops and so does his book collection.  Happy reading 📖

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

I have just today finished reading The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.  I has certainly been a thought provoking read, that has challenged and reignited my views and opinions on women’s rights and the power relationship between men and women.  In particular the relevant and current tendency for women to partake in the oppression of each other.  Actively encouraging it, providing the eyes and ears to monitor their female peers and to sabotage any small or in significant benefit one woman has over the other.  To a certain degree these are natural intrinsic tenancies women have, we feel we are civilised and have moved forward from our primitive instincts, but is this quite true?  After reading this book, and contrasting it to modern life, I am not so sure.

Early on In the story comes a sentence that really illustrates a real central theme within the Republic of Gilead, ‘There is more than one kind of freedom, said Aunt Lydia.  Freedom to and freedom from’.    This is stated in the backdrop of a description of women in a time before having to protect themselves from men, and now in this time they are protected from them, but in return they have to accept the reality of giving up some of their free will.  There is a sense here that women are responsible for the damaging and persecutory actions of men, by not  keeping doors locked, turning to a man that whistles, going into a laundromat alone at night.  Now women are protected from these dangers.  We are romanced into the new way of life.

On the very next page we are confronted with the notion of being undone, of the women in the time before being given a choice to be undone, the word is played with and explored as if to emphasise a key theme to the story, to explore not just the injustice of the new regime but the dark side of the way of life before.  Chapter seven brings a new notion of sexuality, of getting laid, the passive notion of a woman role within a sexual encounter.  Giving us a sense that not just now but in the time before to a certain extent, sex was something done to a woman, rather than something she participated in.  The Handmaid’s Tale has started to describe the environment Ofglen is existing in, and we see brief shots of her life before and her friendship with Moira.  I am left with a lot of unanswered questions in my mind, I am given just a silhouette at this point, the gaps not yet filled in.  Who is in charge here?  What is the purpose of this oppression?  Where is this going?

Fast forward to page 99 and we are starting to get a real sense of the purpose behind this regime and the setup of the power struggle.  Page 99 tries to persuade us to feel for the commander, the man in charge of the household, even for a brief moment we are asked to empathise with him, ‘it must be hell, to be a man, like that’.  I am starting to think I have an idea of where this scenario with the ceremony is going but I cannot quite believe it just yet.  Soon we find out the reality of Ofglen’s purpose and role within this household.  Use of the word ‘fucked’ on page 105 which comes after a brief attempt to define what is going on, we continue with no real word or descriptive of what it is, except a list of what it is not.  The use of the word ‘fucked’ denotes an act that is done to Ofglen, not one that she is actively participating in, again we see the oppressive nature of the world she lives in and the view of women serving a function only, no romance or enjoyment needed, this only distract from their primary  function.  The women just have to lay and to perform their biological purpose.  Men have another hierarchy of power, they are the ones doing the fucking!  But let’s not forget the presence of Serena Joy, this perpetuates throughout the story.  The regime thrives through the participation of women actively controlling and oppressing fellow women.  Ofglen has been stripped of her identity and her humanity of sorts, after the ceremony she goes on to describe wanting basic human affection, ‘I want to be held and told my name.  I want to be valued, in ways that I am not; I want to be more than valuable’.  Shortly after this when Ofglen is expressing a little of herself by sneaking into the kitchen we are reminded that one cannot survive with biological functions alone.  A woman needs something more, ‘I want to reach up, taste his skin, he makes me hungry’. We see more of this relationship with Nick later in the story.  A relationship that gives her just enough normality and passion to get by in this world.

 

Ofglens mother in the time before introduces us on page130/131 to the very brief and sporadic concept within this book of men existing purely for biological functions.  To give us another view the author brings this into the story, in a way to balance our view and further entrench us into the concept.  ‘A man is just a woman’s strategy for making other women’.  A feminist viewpoint allowed only in the time before unravels on these pages, women surviving with minimal input from men and women being the key structure in society, an opposite to the current regime.

 

We see a brief moment of unity amongst the women on page 135 when Janine is giving birth, ‘we are no longer single’ in a ritualistic way the women tap into her and each other, will her on and genuinely feel for her.  The emotion invested in the moment drains all of the women and truly binds them together.  In sharp contrast to the story relying on the tenancy of women to work in direct opposition to each other, to keep each other controlled, even if in a long term fashion it is to their own detriment.  A naturally competitive nature of women, a tendancy for territory and simple gains over each other.  Within the greater relationship between the females in the story we see jealousy and guilt on page 170/171 and some thoughts towards the fellow women and what she herself is experiencing.  This concept is not deep enough or sustained enough for the women to pull together, to work for freedom or the greater good.  They remain enthralled in the concept, the regime, surviving on simple hierarchical control and blind to their strength in numbers, this is sad and frustrating to read.  To see the power the women have and yet they remain blind to it, they remain and continue to be oppressed, despite this.  This mirrors our own society and is primarily why I feel sad to read this.  To think of women in 2017 competing on trivial issues rather than binding together for the greater cause.  Women seem to have a natural tendancy to work or labour  alone, men are pack animals, and have through history wielded more power.  

 

While recounting the past Ofglen describes a time when the power structures shifted, this had an influence on her relationship with Luke, she seemed to feel so much had been ‘taken’ from her but he had lost nothing.  This effected the love between the 2 of them, in a time where she needed him, and no longer had the privilege of choice.  The commander goes on to highlight men feeling they had lost their purpose in the time before, men with an ‘inability to feel’ page 221 the power shifted and men are on top now.  Men’s feelings are the only relevant ones, women are no longer expected or allowed to feel, only their primary function of breeding is relevant.  The concept of love being flawed was later discussed and how the romanticised ideology was utilised as a central tie within relationships in the time before, a now thought of as irrelevant term, which motivated people in often the wrong way.  Now in this regime it is redundant.  Entirely irrelevant.

 

I will not ruin the ending for you, the story goes on and the rather whimpering ending is almost symbolic of the position of woman and continued oppression.  I cannot help but compare this story to current society and the power changes and shifts we currently see in this world.  Women covering up to protect a man’s urges, women feeling they have you behave, dress, feel a certain way and actively encouraging a lack of freedom and free will amongst each other.  The ending feels sad, because we ourselves are flawed.  A remarkable story with a very cautionary tale for all of us to awaken too.

‘If You Knew’ by Nikki Costello

https://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/if-u-knew

The poem starts on an intriguing note, ‘Welcome, Welcome, step right up.’ gives the impression of a circus, or theatrical performance, something the reader would want to engage in.  Which holds parallels to the start of an addiction, when it makes you feel something positive and starts to draw you in.  The first line Is symptomatic of the wider issue of addiction starting out as something fun, something you are tempted towards for a variety of reasons.  I personally feel this is a strong start and an interesting way to introduce addiction as a subject, it certainly makes you want to continue reading and engaging with it, ironic to say the least.

Next we have the psychological promises made by addiction, confidence, luck, companionship.  Certainly giving us the vague idea of the inviting nature of substances, particularly to those that are looking for that confidence or companionship, or some other unnamed entity one might be searching for.  As a reader however we know that something more sinister is coming, introduced by the line ‘Soon you’ll be hooked and then I’ll really attack’.  There is then a drastic change in tone, we start the spiral downwards associated with addiction.  The poem gives a very brief outline of some of the consequences of being tempted by this substance, certainly giving the feel that it is a battle of strength between the individual and the substance, we think we have control over it, we feel strong enough, but the substance is ‘clever’, ‘cunning’ and ‘quick’.  The poet then hints at the change in the person, words such as ‘sickness’, ‘despair’ and ‘beg, steal and lend’ give us a small window of insight into the behavioural changes associated with addiction to substances.

The poet then takes us further on the journey of addiction, addressing the impact on mental health in a brief manner by introducing ‘self-loathing’ as a term of reference and discussing being dragged down by it.  However the poet then suggests that the person has chosen this, earlier on in the poem there was a hint of the person being out of control past a certain point in the addiction cycle, now that control is lost the person faces regret for allowing that loss of control, ultimately impacting on their sense of self.

The last line of the poem has broad references, in my interpretation, of the despair of the individual who viewed substances or alcohol as their only way to deal with their current issues.  What mental state must one be in to be tempted by such a thing and not even ‘ask my name’ which strikes resonance of the wider issues associated with addiction, issues that the person initially found comfort from, in turning to alcohol or substances, or even other forms of addiction outside of this.

A brief piece of work written from the inside, from the point of view of the addiction itself, which gives us a vague sense of some of the broad overarching themes and issues associated with addiction.  The poem takes us on a journey through its linear format and makes us feel something, something deep and thought provoking.

The poet could have been slightly more consistent in keeping with the circus references, as there seems to be only 2 references, however it’s hard to see how this could have been achieved in a small piece such as this.

A good, thought provoking piece, written from the perspective of the addiction itself, quite intriguing and highlights some of the broad themes.

 

 

 

 

‘A Tray Of Ice Cubes’ By Gerard Woodward

This is a short story which tells us a cryptic somewhat surreal story of Daphne and Colin, who’s lives are mundane and dull to say the least.  Their boring existence highlighted by the details at the start, given over to lure the viewer into a sedentary state.  As you stick with it and keep reading it appears to take you outside the initial information on routines and employment onto more valuable topics of a marriage without children after many failed attempts and there are hints of the impact this has had, the scars of which are etched onto each individual.  The ending leaves you hanging, is this the delusions of an unfulfilled man?  A fictional tale he has slipped into believing?   Or in fact is his wife still so stricken with grief that she herself has imagined this, conjured it up in her mind to distract and even to cling onto desperate hope.  A good thought provoking read.

 

Read it for yourselves and do comment on your own thoughts on the story.

The Booze – A Poem By Charlie Bird

This poem was published through an online magazine called The Rialto, that I stumbled across one sleepy Monday morning after a restless night, looking for some type of inspiration.  The poem instantly grabbed my attention with its first line describing the consumation of the person by the alcahol, the merging of the 2, therefore we do not know where the person ends and the alcahol starts.

There is an understanding derived from that first line, that there are 2 people in there, the alcaholic, and the person they were before the alcahol took over.  The descriptive words used in the next line give you as a reader a sense of the scene, the distinct smell of not only alcahol, but alcaholism.  The drink, mixed with self neglect and sweat.  The reluctance of the writer to once again ‘help you up’, tells us that this is a long standing issue and a similar pattern of behaviour, that has gradually grated on that person to become an irritant.  The use of Rhyme in the next line further leads us into that room, helps us to feel what they are feeling.  A sense of being encased within that situation.  The familiar communication between the 2 is evident in the text ‘tell me you love me despite all this’ the drunk shall we call them, does not have the words to ask for reassurance, the energy to reach out.  So they communicate their distress in another way, in this situation it is needing to be helped up.  The writer reluctantly does, because even through you sense the depressed tone and irritability of the writer, you can also see love.

The writer does help, chooses to stay, chooses to keep trying and keep hoping.  This poem engages us to wonder about the relationship between these 2 people.  The person behind the alcahol is there again briefly in the next line, giving even more hope to the writer, something to cling onto, but all too quickly it is gone again.  The use if the word ‘anyway’ illustrates the drunk shrugging off the love just shown to them, refusing to accept the hand reached out to them or the slight yearning they just felt, ‘anyway’ im OK, ‘anyway’ where was I?  We can expand that ‘Anyway’ with our own imagination.

The drinks crops up so quickly after this, showing us that the moments of recognition and insight are few and short lived, giving us a sense of hopelessness from the writer.  Certainly a poem that leaves you thinking about the feelings and thoughts in this situation, we can empathise with both the drunk and the writer.  Good writing overall, some use of rhyme which is only a small amount but does add to the poem.  Appropriately utilised descriptive words and the writing gives us a real sense of the scene without resorting to more explicit and over the top language.

The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins, is a book I was recently able to finish.  The first half at least, of the book was a bit of a slog and took up 90% of the time I took to read the whole book.  It certainly had a slow start but mostly it was perplexing.  I could not predict where the story was going and who was the traditional ‘baddie’ and who indeed was the ‘good guy/girl’.  So I was left in limbo for the first half, not knowing who to root for, who to sympathise with and indeed who to plough my emotions into, in literacy terms of course.  However the book started to get a lot more intense after the initial slow start, graduating up to a point where I was catching a few minutes here and there where I could to read a few pages.  The writing style encourages this ambiguity in regards to characters, which makes the story even more enjoyable.  You get to really see things along each characters line of thought from their individual perspective.  Obviously there is one character who you dont get exposure ti except from a third persons perspective.  I won’t spoil the ending for anyone reading this that had not read the book so I will go no further with that.  The story does pose the question of our internal bias towards people based on clothing, attitude, culture, other peoples opinions etc.  Without necessarily making a complete informed decision about someone’s intentions or character.  The characters that I steered towards in a more sympathetic manner were not the same at the start as at the end.  A very good read, an opportunity to emerse yourself in the characters emotions momentarily and interesting from the ‘who done it’ perspective.  Highly recommended to all book worms.