Nevis Gow, the 15-year-old narrator of this dark novel, has spent 11 years living in a van with his father Marshall, a frustrated writer. The squalid existence has left him damaged: in the absence of any other contact, Nevis developed an obsession with – and, later, an erotic fixation on – his dad.
Startled when Nevis tries to kiss him one night as they travel through the Scottish Highlands, Marshall resolves to restore some kind of normality: he rents a caravan on a farm, and hires a tutor for his son. This is where Nevis begins his account: he describes his struggles to communicate with others, to come to terms with his father's sudden diffidence, and his yearning to return to the relative idyll of the van.
And This is True, Emily Mackie's debut, is assured and deftly crafted. Nevis's voice is brilliantly realised: though naive, he has a bright mind, and a perspective on the world that renders even mundane experiences beautifully strange.