A bursting, heartfelt, debut following fifty-five days in the life of ten-year-old Rae, who must look after herself and her dog when her mother disappears.
For as long as Rae can remember, it’s been her and Mum, and their dog, Splinter; a small, deliberately unremarkable, family. They have their walks, their cooking routines, their home. Sometimes Mum disappears for a while to clear her head, but Rae is okay with this, because Mum always comes back.
So, when Rae wakes to Splinter’s nose in her face, the back door open, and no Mum, she does as she’s always done and carries on. She takes care of the house, goes to school, walks Splinter, and minds her own business – all the while pushing down the truth, she isn’t ready to face.
That is, until her grumpy, lonely neighbour Lettie – with her own secrets and sadness – falls one night and needs Rae’s help. As the two begin to rely on each other, Rae’s anxiety intensifies as she wonders what will happen to her when her mother’s absence is finally noticed and her fragile world bursts open.
A Million Things is Emily Spurr’s debut novel and an astonishing one at that. It takes a skilled writer to authentically depict the perspective of a child, especially in first person. Yet Spurr does just this in A Million Things, creating a voice for Rae that is authentic and seamless, giving the novel an incredibly immersive feel.
What stuck out for me the most when reading the novel was the tender and heartbreaking friendship that forms between Rae and her neighbour Lettie. Lettie and Rae’s friendship blooms from tragedy as they both learn to trust each other, and while emotional, there are a few laugh out loud moments that will catch you off guard. Don’t be surprised if you shed a few tears when reading this, I know I certainly did.
Tender, funny and heartbreaking, A Million Things is a story of grief and resilience, told with eloquent simplicity. In brave, spiky Rae, Emily Spurr has created a character you will never forget. Do yourself a favour and add A Million Things to your TBR pile, you can thank us later.