The Earth Hums in B Flat, By Mari Strachan
Sunday 12 April 2009
I loved this debut, which manages to give a young girl's narrative an authentically quirky aspect, without ever resorting to cutesiness or cosiness.
Gwenni Morgan, who lives in a small Welsh town, sees something she doesn't understand: the aftermath of the beating of a neighbour, administered by her husband. Over the next few days, that violent husband goes missing, but Gwenni is too young to make the connection between his disappearance and his wife's abuse. The connections she does make are almost supernatural: when Gwenni closes her eyes, she can fly through the town and see through windows and glimpse private lives. Some of this information is quite useless, of course, as she can't understand what she is seeing, and her mother – who knows the kind of gift her daughter has and is the only one who might be able to help her – instead punishes her daughter.
Strachan eschews whimsy for reality in a beautifully written story about growing up – an experience that itself so often seems full of the wrong kind of magic.
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