This atmospheric debut looks like a rural Irish coming-of-age novel, but it’s cleverer, darker, more unreliable.
Which character can you trust? There will be parallels to Sally Rooney but it most reminded me of Jon McGregor’s groundbreaking lost-girl story Reservoir 13.
For the book’s chief success is the way it captures a different era entirely, the liminal space between old and new Irelands, a time, just before the millennium, where Katie goes to college in Dublin with the hopes of landing a career in film. It is an age before social media and clean eating and Tinder. She shares a flat with two comically drawn sisters, Nuala and Norma, and quickly learns that life after college is hard work for someone whose parents aren’t wealthy. Katie’s yearning to better herself gives momentum to the book, and her thought-provoking insights along the way always ring true: “It’s important when you’ve good news to tell the right people. People who understand the dream or have a dream of their own. Otherwise you end up feeling deflated.”