All My Mothers by Joanna Glen [9/10]

All My Mothers” begins by following a standard “general fiction” trope, with Eva (pronounced Ever) Martinez-Green abandoned by her father from a young age and traumatised with an emotionally distant mother, and Joanna Glen takes us on a standard “journey” of growing up and exploring love and belonging, written in a very up-close, acerbic-yet-emotional style that at first unmoored me. Was I destined to sink into a morass of sentimental particularities, irritated by the quirkiness of the stylistics? Instead, All My Mothers weaves an escalating, complex spell as Eva grows up and moves abroad, all the while gathering around her a veritable fleet of people, splendid and grubby alike. The final quarter of the novel explodes with deep connection, in a way that only a consummate writer (and there are few of them) can achieve. Nothing in the plot is foreordained, with no manipulative twists, yet everything slots into place as intrinsically, messily human. Reader, I wept, something I rail against. One of 2021’s treasures.

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