I read this little gem months ago and am shamefully only getting to writing the review now. This is a deceptively simple tale of teenage Katia, unable to help her family as her recently unemployed mother moves in with her aged grandmother as her carer to save money. We see the family through Katia’s eyes – how desperately her mother missed her father during the week; how cruel the toll of dementia is on an individual and their loved ones; and slowly as the book evolves we uncover another tragedy that sheds light on why a profound sadness is just below the surface in every interaction.
The Gingerbread House is gentle yet gripping – I had to find out what was going to happen, even though much of the book is a skilful capturing of moments and character development rather than driving plot. Little details are softly devastating “On the table next to her is a large-print book, a glasses case and a magnifier. Granny doesn’t read anymore, but she likes to pretend she can. She wears a wrist watch so that she can tell the time, but because she can’t decipher the numerals the time for Granny is always day or dark night or the dusky in-between”. Katia is a beautifully drawn character, and I loved getting to know her. This is a bittersweet, but ultimately life-affirming story, and I highly recommend it.
The Gingerbread House is published by Black & White publishing. I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.