Newest Review: ... things and people- including those Sandy has been investigating- gather and live. 'Here' should be a dream for Sandy, but can she ever fi... more
A story of where the lost things go.
A Place Called Here - Cecelia Ahern
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A Place Called Here - Cecelia Ahern
Advantages: Interesting concept, very well developed and relatable protagonist, nice blend of two narratives,
Disadvantages: Nothing that major for me.
Despite having the most important exams of my university life this month, it hasn't stopped me from doing a little bit of reading as a break from my revision and laptop. Last week I picked up 'A Place Called Here' by Cecelia Ahern from my Uni's book market. I really enjoyed 'The Book of Tomorrow' (which I also reviewed) and was eager to pick another novel by her, especially as the blurb once again piqued my interest.
Sandy Shortt is a private 'Missing Persons' investigator. Her determination in finding people when the police have given up stems from her childhood. Ever since her classmate Jenny-May Butler disappeared several years ago Sandy has been troubled by what causes people and objects to go missing. It is an obsession that threatens her relationships with her parents and her closest thing to a partner, her former school counsellor Gregory Burton.
However, when Sandy is on her way to meet Jack Ruttle, a client desperate to find his brother Donal who disappeared a year ago, she stumbles into a unusual place called 'Here'. It is a place where all the missing things and people- including those Sandy has been investigating- gather and live. 'Here' should be a dream for Sandy, but can she ever find her way back home, and can Jack find her?
'A Place Called Here' was definitely another page-turner in the same vein as 'The Book of Tomorrow'. Ahern combines normal life with a 'what-if' concept- which in this case is a world full of everything that has gone missing. 'Here' is described vividly, with characters from all over the world crammed into a place that I initially couldn't imagine. Unsurprisingly, there are quite a few allegories to Oz, which I found quite apt given Sandy's position of being amazed at this world that gives her answers, but is also not her home and proves to be quite sinister because of her day job.
There are two narrators: Sandy (1st person) and Jack (3rd person). Sandy's character is fully developed through both her own flashbacks and Jack's discoveries about her lifestyle in his own narrative. Sandy is a former Gardai (police officer)turned private investigator, but her M.O stems from an obsession of finding whatever goes missing in her possession- be it a watch or an odd sock- which proves a deep concern to her nearest and dearest. She is distant from her parents and has no friends outside of ex-colleagues. The exception is her counsellor and on-again, off-again boyfriend Gregory Burton, and their strained relationship indicates how serious Sandy's obsession is. Furthermore she knows her missing cases inside and out- with all the people she recognises in Here she talks about their appearances, hobbies and the names of their family and friends, which I found a clever of getting to know minor characters in the book, particularly those whom are related to Jack's own investigation. Naturally the existence of Here is a shock for her, but as she spends more time there you sympathize with how she knows she is less of a person than the people she has been searching for.
Jack isn't as strong a character, but he's still well-developed and is a protagonist you grow to understand. Like Sandy he is haunted by the disappearance of his brother Donal, and the event is putting strain on continuing his own life and relationships. His search for Sandy marks his desperation in finding her so that she can find Donal. What bugged me was that it is explicitly mentioned that Jack and Donal were not that close as brothers, so I was confused as to why Jack is so deeply affected by the disappearance. Nevertheless I was equally intrigued by his own journey to find Sandy and put his own obsession at rest. There's also a good cast of supporting characters in both the real world and Here whom I grew to like.
I never felt that the switching of narrator or the flashbacks to be jarring or disjointed. There is one plot twist towards the end that I didn't see coming but made sense when I looked back at prior events. By the end, I was happy to see how much Sandy had developed as a character and what she had learned. Jack didn't get quite the same treatment, but since he's not really the central protagonist I shall let it slide.
I absolutely loved this book and pretty much finished it in three days (a good sign considering I've been revising!). If you're a fan of Cecelia Ahern or want a fairly light read with some fairytale/fantasy elements, then by all means you should read this!
You can buy 'A Place Called Here' brand-new at Amazon for £5.59 (paperback copy).
Summary: Another great novel from Cecelia Ahern.