Author: Jenny Downham
Genre: Contemporary, YA
Publisher: David Fickling Books
Publication Date: 3rd September 2015
Summery : Three women – three secrets – one heart-stopping story.Katie, seventeen, in love with someone whose identity she can’t reveal.Her mother Caroline, uptight, worn out and about to find the past catching up with her.Katie’s grandmother, Mary, back with the family after years of mysterious absence and ‘capable of anything’, despite suffering from Alzheimers.As Katie cares for an elderly woman who brings daily chaos to her life, she finds herself drawn to her. Rules get broken as allegiances shift. Is Mary contagious? Is ‘badness’ genetic?In confronting the past, Katie is forced to seize the present. As Mary slowly unravels and family secrets are revealed, Katie learns to live and finally dares to love
Unbecoming has been on my radar for quite some time. I’d be interested by it since its release in 2015, so once I hauled it in February I knew I wanted to get to it sooner rather than later. Apart from knowing that Unbecoming is a YA book about generations within one family, I knew nothing going in to it.
Katie is a teenager who is struggling with her family life, as she has been most of her teenage years. Her mother and father divorced when she was young, her little brother Chris is disabled and her mother is just about as restricting as mothers could be. That is until her long lost grandmother turns up in the form of dementia crippled Mary.
I’m very glad that I went in to this novel knowing absolutely nothing, because it meant that there were some twists and surprises that I was more than pleased to have found out. For me there were two stand out points of this novel, the storyline and the character depth. With a novel that is based around generations of the same family, the storyline and how that all plays out is a huge part of the enjoyment of the novel. If that’s not done right then the novel will not read right. There were so many twists in the novel which left you guessing what was real, what wasn’t, what was going to happen and if you were right. The whole thing was just intriguing.
The character depth that was explored in this novel that incorporated so many different themes was also one of the best parts. I was no expecting to encounter things like divorce, childhood issues, mental health issues and sexuality in this novel, but I was pleasantly surprised. Katie and her mother had a wonderful truthfulness about them as you learned more about their lives. I really enjoyed getting to know these characters!
There were however a few small points that I did not like about Unbecoming, and they weren’t enough for me to dislike it completely. For instance I feel like there were some loose ends that were not tied up towards the end. For example with Katie’s love interest, not much happened to round that situation off at the end, and it left me a little disappointed. Also I feel like some of the medical situations were not handled incredibly well. Mary has dementia, and as far as we are told she remembers next to nothing about her life. However everything else seemed absolutely perfect. I feel like this could have been a lot more truthful to facts about the illness. In addition we did not learn until later in the novel that Chris actually has a disability, this could have been pointed out sooner so we got a better idea of his character.
Overall I really did enjoy this book and I would reread it without a doubt. I definitely did not expect to get emotional at a few scenes between Katie and her mother but it did make me shed a tear or two. The whole idea of it is clever and pulled off really well actually! Unbecoming is a true, heart warming story of learning to live with your past, honour your own stories and respect those around you. I’d recommend Unbecoming if you wanted a contemporary YA novel that is based around family life!
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