Mar 19

Review: The Other Hand by Chris Cleave

I received this book for free from ARC received from publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Other Hand by Chris CleaveThe Other Hand (released as Little Bee in the US) by Chris Cleave
Published by Sceptre on 2009-01
Genres: contemporary, fiction
Pages: 378
Source: ARC received from publisher
Buy on Amazon

'The Other Hand' is a novel by Chris Cleave, the author of 'Incendiary'. Deeply moving, yet light in touch, it explores the nature of loss, hope, love and identity with atrocity as its backdrop.

I will admit to being annoyed by the ambiguous back cover blurb with this book (“We don’t want to tell you what happens in this book. It is a truly special story and we don’t want to spoil it”). The inclusion of a letter from the senior editor extolling the virtues of the story while similarly not giving anything away also frustrated me. After all, it’s unlikely that an editor would include a note saying “Well, this book is okay, I guess”, so her enthusiastic support is hardly surprising.

If I hadn’t received a review copy of The Other Hand I doubt that I would have ever bothered reading it, and that would have been a terrible shame. This book is now quite firmly in my top 10 books. I loved it so much, that I insisted Meredith read it IMMEDIATELY when I finished, despite the fact that she already had about 8 review books sitting on her review pile and we don’t tend to double up by reading the same books.

I loved this book and found it difficult to put down. There are some disturbing scenes and serious issues, particularly relating to refugees and attacks on the central character of Little Bee, but the book also has some lovely light-hearted family moments for the other central character Sarah and her son.

While the story isn’t without its flaws, in my opinion these are far outweighed by the fact that Chris Cleave has taken such important issues and communicated them in a way that is accessible and, at times, enjoyable. The writing is superb and I have numerous phrases and at times whole paragraphs that I have underlined because I thought they were so incredibly well-phrased.

I am keen to read Cleave’s first book, Incendiary. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes to read books that encourage them to think. Don’t be put off by the air of secrecy and mystery.

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