This review is written with thanks to Netgalley for my copy of The Museum Of You.
Clover Quinn is twelve years old. She lives with her dad, Darren, who is a local bus driver, next door to Mrs Mackerel, and she likes spending time on the allotment. Whilst on a school trip, she visits a museum and learns about the way in which artefacts are kept and cared for. This inspires her to explore her mother's bedroom. Her mother, Becky, died when she was six weeks old in an accident, but beyond that, Clover knows very little about her mother's life or death. Can she find the information that is missing?
The Museum of You is told in third person throughout, with alternate chapters written from the perspective of Clover and Darren. This method of narration helps the reader to understand the motivations of both central characters, and allows us to enter their world and build empathy with them. The characters take us on a journey, exploring themes such as coming of age, mental illness and death with sensitivity and gentleness that compels the reader to wish them well and follow them to the conclusion of their story.
Bray has a very distinctive writing style. Her work is very descriptive and is laced with understated humour, most noticeable through Clover's matter-of-fact tone and Mrs Mackerel's use of malapropisms, often in the most inappropriate circumstances. The descriptions help to build a picture of the surroundings in which Clover and Darren live and the two features work together to create a sense of the world inhabited by the characters, so the readers can immerse themselves in it.
It is clear from Bray's writing that The Museum of You is set in recent years, as she often makes reference to relatively new innovations, such as iPlayer, and current television programmes, such as The Great British Bake Off. Although I am somewhat older than Clover, the inclusion of these aspects of modern culture helped me to relate to her and maintain interest in her story.
Although The Museum Of You is a more gentle read than the gritty novels to which I am often drawn, I thoroughly enjoyed it, particularly the understated way in which Bray compelled me to love her characters and immerse myself in their environment in the same way that she clearly has done.
The Museum Of You is available from Amazon.