I really loved the voice of the author in this book, she had a wonderfully quirky view on life and I highlighted a number of phrases and observations that appealed to me.
The book also rang a memory bell, set in a Britain that I clearly remember from my childhood, during the endless hot summer of 1976.
The characters are all residents of The Avenue, part of an estate somewhere in England. Many have known each other from childhood and grown up together, a few are 'incomers'. They encompass a number of quirks that would be labelled in modern day societies, but at that time, Dyslexia, Asperger's and similar personality or learning disorders, were just accepted as different. The significant question was - how much different, and could you still fit in?
Whilst there as a bit of a who-done-it, running through the narrative, the main theme was the disappearance of Margaret Creasey, who has vanished as the story begins. The residents thought they knew why she'd left and were worried that it might bring up long-buried secrets.
Ten-year-old Grace and her friend Tilly, decide they are going to spend their summer vacation searching The Avenue for God as he would surely know where Mrs Creasey was.
It really took me back, how conversation took place over a cup of tea and a packet of Custard Creams....and Angel Delight! I remember my mother discovering Angel Delight, it replaced Bird's Custard as 'afters' for quite a while!
And I have to include just a few of the lovely quotes that I'd highlighted:
"She has to call several times because his dreams are like cement." (Loc 618)
"I still hadn't learned the power of words. How, once they have left your mouth, they have a breath and life of their own." (Loc 2887)
"My mother looked at him and did loud staring" (Loc 3316).
"My mother cornered her eyes" (Loc 3330)
So, why didn't I give this book the full five stars? Well, I actually had a problem equating some of the things Grace and Tilly say with their age of ten, they seemed older than their years a lot of the time. Plus there is a slight lack of resolution at the end - why did Walter suddenly enter the conversation uninvited and what happened about the secrets that everyone was so scared of revealing?
Still, it's a brilliant read, especially if you were old enough to remember that summer.