“ Author: Dorothy Koomson / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 04 June 2007 / Genre: Modern & Contemporary Fiction / Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group / Title: Marshmallows for Breakfast / ISBN 13: 9780751537086 / ISBN 10: 0751537086 „
Having previously read My Best Friend's Girl by Dorothy Koomson, when I was looking for something else to read I thought that I'd look up the author having really enjoyed it - there was a selection of books by her, but I decided to go for marshmallows for breakfast, having been intrigued by the title.
In the novel, Kendra makes a sudden decision to return to the UK from Australia where she'd been living for nearly 6 years following a shocking turn of events which she doesn't wish to be reminded of, or share with anyone. Carrying the secret around, she returns to England and rents a room from Kyle who lives with his two kids, Summer and Jaxon after their mother took off. Kendra can't help but fall in love with these children, but what will happen when their mother returns and the secrets come out?
While I enjoyed this book, it wasn't really anything spectacular and compared to Dorothy Koomson's last book that I'd read it was a disappointment. The real strength of her books seems to be the characters, I always really like them and there never really flat. However, all of her books do seem to very similar with themes involving children, and controversial themes as well - there was some suicide involved in the novel. They seem to have a similar structure - someone always has a secret that will be revealed near the end, and then everyone will fix it - but this happens in most chick lit books so I can't really complain!
- - PLOT - -
Kendra or Kendie as we know her as soon into the story, has arrived back in the UK from Australia with a big secret. One that she has no wish to share with anyone, even her best friend and boss Gabrielle.
She moves into a small flat in the garden of a house owned by a quiet, separated father of two named Kyle. All Kendra wants is a small bit of peace and quiet to call her own, and on first inspection it seems that is exactly what she has found in the suburbs of London.
But all that peace is about to be shattered when two whirlwinds by the name of Jackson and Summer enter Kendra's life. They are the six year old twins belonging to her landlord Kyle, and they are determined to be a part of Kendra's life, whether she wants them or not. The children turn up in her flat unannounced, they leave her gifts on her doorstep and even invite her to breakfast at their house.
Despite her reservations Kendra finds herself drawn into the lives of Summer, Jackson and Kyle and begins to fall in love with all three of them as she learns more about not just the children's lives but also Kyle's.
All seems relatively happy until Kendra bumps into someone from her past who shakes her reserve to the core. Will she ever be able to escape from the mistakes and hurt of her past? Will she ever be happy in the future? And we all want to know... ever become step-mother to the two children she grows to love?
- - OPINION - -
I have heard wonderful things about Koomson as an author but have never got around to reading her books until now, and on reading Marshmallows for breakfast I wish I had done it sooner.
Although I didn't find myself drawn into the story straight away as I have done with other books recently, within the first two chapters I started to warm to Kendra and found myself wanting to know her secrets. Why had she left Australia? Why was she so reluctant to let two children who seemed utter adorable into her life?
I found the way Koomson had written the characters of Summer and Jackson fascinating. She really captured the pain and hurt in a child's mind, the way Jackson reacted to certain things that happened around him is the way I have seen emotionally damaged children behave myself and I thought it really brought some heart and emotion to the book. She also showed that with a bit of help and love children that have had to overcome difficulties in life can learn to deal with things and again become happy playful children. Without a doubt Jackson was easily my favourite character in the book, he really touched my heart with his sweet quiet charm.
I found the relationship between Kyle and Kendra a bit difficult to read sometimes, I just felt that something between them didn't flow as I was expecting it to. But then again, I saw a different outcome happening in the story than what did happen so maybe that tinted my perspective a little.
Without ruining the story at all there is a scene with Kendra watching Kyle and the children together in a park and I found this really emotional to read. The writing was just descriptive enough that in my minds eye I could see the smiles on the children's faces and feel the emotion of the three of them together as a family. It really made me smile.
A must for anyone who likes their chick lit with a bit of underlying family drama thrown in for good measure.
ISBN - 9780751537086
PAGES - 440
PRICE - £6.99 but can be found on Amazon for £5.99
After reading another of Dorothy Koomson's novels "My Best Friend's Girl" - a book which I very much enjoyed after it MADE me want to read more, even after crying when reading it! - I decided to try Koomson's new offering.....''Marshmallows for Breakfast''.
'''What's the Story?'''
The premise featured on the back of the book offers me hints of an undisclosed secret/scandal that ruins somebody's life in a very dramatic way - it hints of some kind of child abuse, it sounded very interesting and something I wanted to read.
The story centres on Kendra Tamale, a lady who has recently returned to England from Australia, the reason why is not given until the very end, I suppose this is too make you carry on reading the book! (Not much else does!)
Enter Kyle Gadsborough, a single Dad who struggling to cope with two six year old twins who are missing their mother. Kendra rents a flat off Kyle, which is conveniently situated as an annexe in his back garden.
The twins, Summer and Jaxon, start treating Kendra as a mother figure, letting themselves into her flat and helping themselves to her possessions.
Ashlyn Gadsborough - the mother and estranged wife of Kyle. If I'm being honest - her story takes over the book.
'''My take on the book'''
From the word go - reading the book was a real struggle. I failed to like Kendra, and as she was the main person in the book, this made it quite difficult! She comes across as blunt, a little stand-offish, unfriendly and odd. The premise on the back of the book led me to believe that the story was gritty, and it was anything but. Kendra was terrified of being around children but within hours of meeting the twins, she was "Mum" to them, giving them breakfast, picking them up from school, babysitting and spending family time with them and their dad Kyle. Not really the actions of someone who is TERRIFIED of children. Not really sure why that was even brought up - as it made no sense and wasn't part of the "scandal" that led to her return to the UK.
Kyle seemingly fell in love with Kendra, which again, was obvious, but even before anything happened, Kendra imagined herself as some kind of sex-goddess and even if Kyle looked at her then this was "below the belt" and "overstepping boundaries" - I found this very irritating, and if this was real life the man would take a step back from this banshee of a woman from fear of accusations that could damage someone being made.
The twins came across as very annoying - and I do love children, even having one as my own, but the author did them no favours in making them very brat like and "kooky" - if I was terrified of children, then these twins wouldn't make me change my mind!
As mentioned earlier, the story was more about Ashlyn, the twin's mother, and the main reason I read the book was because of the premise on the back, not for some bit-parts characters story which made no dent into the "scandal". The reason for Kendra's "scandal" came out in the last pages of the book after reading through lots of flashbacks from various characters; the rest of the book was really nothing to do with it and was just filler. Towards the middle of the book I was thinking myself I didn't really care on what the scandal was, I didn't like the character and I didn't feel the scandal would add any excitement into the book, which it didn't.
The scandal, I suppose, is upsetting, but I didn't cry even though I normally would. I thought it was a bit obvious and uninspiring. It could be quite painful to read in a book which you enjoy, but as I had switched myself off I felt nothing - even though I'm not a cold person!
'''Would I recommend the book?'''
No, it was one of the dullest books I've read in a long time and was disappointed with the beginning, middle, and end of the book. If you DO feel compelled to read, make sure you beg, borrow or steal (!) DON'T BUY!
If you do want to buy - the book is priced at £5.49 on Play.Com, used versions can be bought on Ebay for cheaper.
THIS IS ALSO ON CIAO UNDER THE USERNAME LDS1985
I read one of Dorothy Koomson's earlier novels, "My Best Friend's Girl", a while ago and was literally sobbing my way throughout the very first chapter! As it happened, I didn't feel that the rest of the novel lived up to the opening (or to the hype) but I did come away with the feeling that I'd like to read some more of the author's work in future.
I picked 'Marshmallows for Breakfast' from a charity shop a few months ago and started reading it almost immediately. Months later, and the book was still sitting on my bedside cabinet, unfinished, despite repeated attempts to get into the story. From an avid (and very quick) book reader like myself, that is not a good sign! Fortunately, I have managed to force myself to finish it as I really hate to leave a book unfinished.
The story centres around Kendra Temale who has recently returned to England from Australia (for reasons that are only hesitantly revealed much later in the book.) She rents a flat from Kyle who is a single Dad, struggling to cope with two hyperactive six year old twins. The twins befriend Kendra, despite her initial reluctance, and Kendra finds herself sharing secrets and parts of her life with the twins and their Dad.
The premise sounds very much like a book that I would enjoy, particularly as the back cover hints at some undisclosed scandal that is going to come to light and ruin Kendra's life in a dramatic fashion. I'm not totally sure just why this book fell so short of its initial promise, just that it really failed to establish, never mind keep, my interest in the main characters, let alone the storyline.
I failed to establish any real rapport with the principal character of Kendra, which was a barrier as the story is told in the first person from Kendra's point of view. For one thing, she didn't strike me as a person that I'd warm to in real life, managing to come across as both stand-offish and overly judgemental and interfering. Her actions didn't seem to fit with the character and personality that the author was describing. She was supposedly terrified of being around other people's children and, indeed, that was given as the reason for moving to Australia in the first place, and yet within hours of meeting the twins, Jaxon and Summer, she was round their flat, giving them breakfast (hence the title) and interfering in their lives.
The relationship between Kendra and Kyle didn't ring true to me either and I found Kendra's ambivalence towards Kyle both frustrating and irritating. Both of them were supposedly really private individuals, hiding painful secrets from their past, but they became intimate with each other(emotionally, not physically) so quickly that it lost my interest. (Which was difficult because I don't think the novel ever really held my interest!) I even disliked the six year old twins and can't imagine why anybody would find themselves so captivated by their precocious and pretty invasive behaviour that it would be enough for somebody to overcome their aversion to kids!
My lack of involvement and belief in the characters meant that I never truly felt engrossed in the story. I struggled to read the story and put it down on many occasions, reading other, much better novels in between. I do wonder whether reading the book in fits and starts like this exacerbated my disinterest in the characters. Unfortunately, the book just didn't give me any reason to keep reading on, as I wasn't particularly interested in any of the characters and their fate.
The story kept hinting at shocking secrets from the past which explained some of the behaviours of the characters. The secrets are revealed in piecemeal fashion by means of various flashbacks from different incidents. The story does deal with some genuinely harrowing and serious themes and this should be the sort of novel that has me sobbing throughout. (I'm the sort who cries at the X Factor, never mind a half-decent tearjerker!) I didn't even need to pick up a tissue at all whilst reading this - further evidence of my failure to engage with these oddly superficial characters.
I struggled on with this story but there are so many elements and incidents that didn't really fit with the characters' personalities. If this had been a book that I'd enjoyed, I would easily forgive those sorts of flaws in the plotline but, with this, it just made the book incredibly difficult and it became a real chore to finish. The ending of the book was similarly uninspiring, although I couldn't describe it as disappointing because that would suggest a level of interest that I'd never reached whilst reading this.
I'd be tempted to give this one star but do feel that reading the book over prolonged absences probably didn't help (even though that is an indication of the story's failure to reel me in) so I've begrudgingly given it two stars.
I've got another novel by Koomson sitting on my shelves and I'm in no hurry to read that, after enduring the turgid experience of reading 'Marshmallows for Breakfast'! I didn't feel that 'My Best friend's Girl' was as good as the hype suggested but, for all its flaws, it was much better than this weak offering from Dorothy Koomson.
This is one of those books that sucks you in and you don't want to put down.
The book is written from Kendra's perspective and appears to have a very clean start from a clean slate of her return to England (as the book evolves however this is clearly not that simple). One thing the suggestion and assumptions made in this book show is not to jusdge too fast without knowing all information!!!
There are 4 central characters, Kendra (identifiable and compassionate, but very damaged and slightly hiding), Kyle (landlord with LOTS of baggage), Summer and Jackson (the twin children of Kyle, who draw Kendra and Kyle together). There are also several periphary people who don't come under such strict exmination.
The book tackles some vey sensitive issues in a very calm but direct way and considers the relationships between the characters sensitively and carefully. The relationship between the two main adults is complicated however and one slight thing I dislike about the book is how fast Kendra's opinion of Kyle changes! It is an intense relationship though which works well for the purpose.
The style is very readable even with flashbacks to the past.
There was tension throughout the book and I did feel I was waiting for something to happen - the ending was nt something I expected!
I love the recurring theme of strange breakfasts and how this is based on a story Kendra told establishing her relationship with the children. It also draws the chapter titles in nicely and avoids having 1, 2, 3 etc!
Marshmallows for breakfast will take you through all the emotions. It's about Kendra moving from Australia back to England you follow her story and find out why she moved to Australia in the first place and what made her move back to England. Kendra moves into a flat which is across from the house where her landlord lives. Kyle who has twins Summer and Jaxon is going through a divorce with Ashlyn his alcoholic wife, they become a big part of Kendra's life even tho at first she doesn't want to become to close and would have prefered if they were to keep they distance. The book takes you through the highs and lowers about betrayal, forgiveness and friendship. The more you read the more you find out what has happened to Kendra and her darkest sercet that she has kept since she was 20 and changed her life forever.
If I hadn't of accepted this book from somebody I know, it would probably be sat on the shelf of a local charity shop right now. I'm not saying that it's a terribly boring book but it wouldn't be one that would draw my attention. I haven't read any of Dorothy Koomsons books before and I'm not entirely convinced that this one will make me decide to either.
Marshmallows for Breakfast is largely surrounding the main character, Kendra, who seems to have a problem with staying where she is. There is something in her pass which she insists on running away from and won't open up to anybody about it and so on moving to Britain from Australia, she envows to start a new and uncomplicated life. That, however, never seems to go to plan.
After renting out a small flat from Kyle, a recently separated man,she soon realises that by doing so she has somehow also adopted his two small children Summer and Jaxon. Quickly coming to terms with the fact that she is now going to be a part of their lives she decides that there is no way that she could turn her back on them and leave again.
As the story continues we see how much she has grown to love the family but also catch a glimpse as to what it is she is running away from. Something which, although no actions had been taken, has affected her ever since. Although this story is mainly about Kendra there are little interweaven aspects thrown in as well. Kyles inept struggle to bond with his children, whilst also dealing with the separation from his wife.
This isn't by any means a slow story. There is always something going on which stops you from being tired of it. The fact that you get to know the characters so well is something which is also very appealing. Whilst Kendra is confident and knows how to deal with different scenarios, Kyle is somewhat subdued and vulnerable. This appears to have an impact on Jaxon, the younger of the two children and the quietest. Like Kendra, Summer is also very bold and unfront with things.
The novels explores a lot of different issues, love, separation, divorce, assault, betrayal and alcoholism. All of which are done in a sensitive way. Unlike a few other books this one doesn't have the ending I initially wanted. The bit that frustrated me a bit was that it appeared as though there was no ending and sometimes that is something you want out of certain books.
This is an average book but I don't think I'll be reading it again. You can get it for £5 on Amazon but I wouldn't completely recommmend it.
After reading "My Best Friend's Girl", I knew I was going to go on and read more by Dorothy Koomson.
Marshmallows for breakfast grabbed me because the title was so unusual. Kendra our main character has been living in Australia for a couple of years, but now she is returning to England, and is looking for a quiet life.
She rents a room from a single man with two children. Kendra has a lot of secrets and she refuses to think about them most of the time. We know this because a lot of the book is told from in Kendra's mind.
When she is pulled into the real world, she finds herself getting closer and closer to Kyle's children, Summer and Jaxon, something she really didn't want to happen when she rented the annex room from him.
All Kendra wanted to do was get up, go to work, come home and go to bed before starting the process over again.
What are her secrets? Why has she returned to the UK in such a hurry?
There is a lot of suspense and intrigue circling around the plot in this book. It really does keep the reader guessing right to the end.
Kendra realises that just because she wants to be alone, she can't shut two small children out, and a new relationship is formed.
I wont discuss what happens as it could lead to spoilers, but believe me when I say there is a lot happening in this book, but it's a lot that you'll find yourself wanting to know about so it's not information overload.
Kendra does manage to go about her everyday life for quite a while until she meets someone from her past. Her whole life is threatened to be turned upside down, all in the space of one day.
How will she cope with it?
Kendra comes across very early on as a strong individual. I feel Koomson has portrayed her very well. There are many innuendos through the book that can be easily missed. When they are explained you will find yourself saying, "of course" as you realise what certain paragraphs relate to.
This book had me on the edge of my seat all the way through. I almost found myself skimming certain bits, not because I was bored, but because I couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen next,
You will need to be able to concentrate on this book, as the plot is told through present day as well as flash backs. These aren't confusing in themselves and does gel well together, but never the les they do happen and if you skip a bit of text you'll be transported back without realising it.
There are many twists and turns throughout the plot and I was kept guessing right to the end. Even when I thought I knew the direction it was going to follow, I was proved wrong almost all of the time.
I found myself wanting to be there with Kendra, to be able to help her out and make things ok again for her.
Dorothy Koomson really does capture the reader in this book and if you've never read it I highly recommend it.
Price: £4.37 (amazon)
Kendra Tamale returns to the UK from Australia, clearly running from something that has happened to her. She is now hoping for a peaceful life so has rented a flat in the grounds of a house, and doesn't intend to see much of her landlord. However the book starts with her landlords twin children walking in on her while she's in the shower so she knows her life isn't going to be as simple as she'd hoped! She soon meets their father Kyle, who has recently split from the twin's mother and is struggling to cope. When the twins later call on Kendra to tell her that they"can't wake daddy" and Kendra finds him in a drunken stupour, she becomes embroiled in their lives. Initally she worries about the children and assumes that Kyle's wife Ashlyn left because of his drinking. She eventually learns there is more to the split than this and becomes friends with Kyle, assisting him with the children, whom she grows close to. When Ashlyn appears later in the story, Kendra fears she will lose the twins, and when we learn of a dark secret Kendra has been hiding for years, we realise why this loss would hurt her so much.
Kendra is clearly a troubled soul and we learn through flashbacks why she left Australia and also about the secret she has been hiding for so long (as mentioned above).
What I liked about this book was the fact that things were not always as I predicted. I assumed Kendra left Australia because a relationship broke down, but it turns out it wasn't that simple. The ending was not what I expected which was interesting, as I had a set idea in my mind of what would happen and it was surprising not to be landed with a cliched "happy ever after" scenario. Not that the ending is sad as such, it just isn't what I expected, and is a little bit of an anti-climax.
On the down side, I found the childrens immediate attachment to Kendra contrived. I've never known such an immediate attachment between a child and a stranger, even if the child is rather forward!
Kendra is a likeable character who initally appears to struggle to let people close to her but the twins Summer and Jaxon soon break down this barrier. Kendra eventually shares her secrets with Kyle which helps her deal with, and accept, her past. I feel she learns a lot about life and herself over the course of the book. She isn't afraid to talk straight and gives Kyle a hard time when she believes he is not looking after his children properly. She also handles her nasty colleague Janine really well, however shows her weaker side when a letter from Australia arrives, which shows the contrasting sides of her nature.
I didn't take to Kyle initially but he grew on me. I think this is a testament to the author's writing because this was also how Kendra saw him! Summer and Jaxon are endearing but unlike any children I have ever encountered!! I preferred their characters to Tegan, the child in "My Best Friends Girl", also by the same auther. I found Tegan one dimensional but Summer and Jaxon had a lot of personality. The characters all have flaws and weaknesses which are blatant to see and which they all deal with. I like this because it makes them seem like real people. My only criticism would be that all Ms Koomson's characters seem to very physically attractive!!!
I like the style of this book better than the 2 others I have read by the same author. The flashbacks are intertwined well with the main story and allow us to slowly build a picture of Kendra's background and to see why she is the person she is.
I do find the writing a bit sloppy in places - this is something I've found in other books by Ms Koomson and I really think she should find herself a new editor! Some expressions and descriptions are over-used and a bit naff to be honest. I wouldn't let this put you off but I did find it irritating in places.
This story mught be a bit "chick lit" for some peoples tastes. I despise chick lit but quite enjoyed this, however it won't be for everyone. I like this better than some of Ms Koomson's earlier books and I think she has improved enormously since her debut. I would recommend you read this before reading her more well-known title "My Best Friends Girl" as this book is the better of the two.
When Kendra returns in a hurry from Australia after something goes terribly wrong, she rents a flat. She expects to be the sort of tenant who rarely, if ever, sees her landlord. However, his six-year-old twins break in the first day (while she's in the shower, no less!) and he invites her to breakfast to apologise. When they come over a day later to ask for help, as their dad is passed out drunk on the sofa, Kendra finds herself taking far more of a hand in the little family than she ever anticipated.
Fluff books are, by their nature, fairly predictable. However, this one keeps you guessing, twists and turns gently unfolding page by page.
It focuses as much, if not more, on the twins as it does any romance, and I rather liked that. The focus really isn't on "will x and y get together, and how" as much as it is about "who will get custody of the kids and will it be okay". Perhaps because of this focus it's also pretty much entirely smut-free - I would have no worries letting even a young teen read this if they wanted to.
A nice gentle read - not compelling enough to get me hooked, but lovely when I just wanted to relax.
Marshmallows for breakfast is the 3rd book I have read by Dorothy Koomson and it is her follow up novel to the successful My Best Friends Girl which I thoroughly enjoyed.
The main character in the story is Kendra Tamale and she has just returned to the UK from Australia. We find out from flashbacks and snippets of information that are fed to us throughout the book that something has happened to her out there and she left the country in a rush. Further to this, something else has happened earlier in her life in the UK and was her reason for moving to Australia in the first place. These secrets' become apparant at the end of the book.
Although these secrets and flashbacks are an integral part of the book and build up the suspense throughout the read, it runs alongside Kendras current life. When Kendra arrives back in the UK she rents a house from Kyle, a recently seperated dad of two. His children, Summer and Jaxon, soon latch on to Kendra and a friendship grows between the children and her and also with her landlord Kyle. She finds herself spending more and more of her time with them and they soon become almost a family.
Also playing a big part in the story is Kendras boss Gabrielle. She knew Kendra before she went to Australia and although her friend has not disclosed any information to her she knows that Kendra is suffering. Kyles wife Ashlyn left Kyle and the children in the middle of the night to deal with her issues, but now wants the children back to live with her. Kendra finds herself in the middle of the disputes, a situation she is not comfortable with.
It is clear that Kendra has suffered in her past and has difficulty dealing with her emotions. She fears the children at first but soon grows to love them.
I really enjoyed this book. The flashbooks built up gradually. Initially I assumed they all related to the same event but it eventually becomes clearer that two events have effected Kendras life. The way the author interwove these flashbacks into the story created suspense and made me want to keep reading to find out more. I liked Kendra. I did think she was a bit cold and cowardly at first, always running away. Not wanting to face up to situations. But once I found out more I started to appreciate why and empathise with her character. There are a couple of scenes towards the end of the book where she shows real guts and I admired that in her. I found myself actually crying as the book was nearing its conclusion. That doesnt happen to me that often! Honest!
Overall the main theme of the book seems to be about accepting events that have effected your life. Not blaming yourself for other peoples actions and moving on from situations you could not control. It emphasises how much time we sometimes need to be able to do this and how difficult it can be to put the past in the past and move on.
I appreciate the authors style of writing which has been consistent in all three novels I have read so far. She likes to separate the book into sections using headings and then further into chapters. The headings in this book were all various types of breakfast. The title of the book relates to the first day she spends with the children.
If you have read any of Dorothy Koomsons other novels and enjoyed them then I definately recommend this book. Even if you haven't it is an enthralling and thought provoking read.More information regarding the author can be found at www.dorothykoomson.co.uk. including small sections of her books. So if you are still unsure then maybe this will persuade you either way!
Im looking forward to getting my hands on The Cupid Effect next!
Price: retail £6.99, Amazon new £4.19
Marshmallows for Breakfast is the second book I have read by Dorothy Koomson. Earlier this year I read her novel 'My Best Friend's Girl' which I absolutely adored so I was very keen to read this one and it did not disappoint! It is the sort of book which should appeal to you if you like reading about people and relationships but it is definitely not 'chick lit'!
The main character in the book is Kendra. Things have happened in her past which still have a serious impact on her life and she seems to spend a lot of her life running away rather than confronting her problems. At the start of the book, she is newly arrived in Britain from Australia ready to start a new uncomplicated life. She rents a small flat from Kyle, a recently separated man with two small children. Her determination to keep herself to herself though is soon tested when she finds herself with two small visitors - Summer and Jaxon - the two children in question. They have already decided that she is going to be a part of their lives and she soon discovers that, try as she may, she cannot turn her back on two needy children.
As the story progresses, Kendra becomes more and more involved with the family and becomes integral to helping them with their problems. As this involvement grows, so does her love for them all, and it's not long before she realises that she needs them as much as they need her! As she falls in love with the family, she finds the strength to face up to her past and ultimately move on with her life.
I thought this was an excellent book. It was very readable and also very emotional. Some parts will make you laugh, such as some of the antics that the two children get up to, and other parts will bring tears to your eyes. The book is written in such a way that at times you will be likely to be feeling these two extremes of emotion at the same time!
There are a lot of flashbacks in the story. I liked this because it meant that Kendra's story was gradually unfolding before me and this kept me intrigued. I tend not to like it when I know too much right at the beginning - I like to be kept guessing and trying to work out for myself what might have happened.
The novel is not just about Kendra though. There are a number of different storylines that are interweaved beautifully throughout the book. Kyle's separation from his wife and his struggle to come to terms with this is a strong storyline as is his developing relationship with his children. Also, Kendra's work at a recruitment agency tells another story and develops her friendship with her boss Gabrielle, who is desperately trying to help her. I loved the way all these stories worked so well together.
I found all the characters tremendously likeable and as a consequence I found myself really caring about what happened to them. The story is mainly written in the first person from Kendra's viewpoint and this gives a very good insight to her thoughts and feelings. Kyle is a very interesting character too. He presents a very vulnerable figure, sometimes very sad, and floundering as to how best look after and protect his small family. Best of all for me had to be the two small children who are developed so well that you can just picture them. Summer is confident and outspoken whereas her brother is shy and nervous. Both are very needy and crying out for some stability in their lives. If they were ever to make a film of this book, they would need to find two incredibly cute kids, and you could guarantee there would not be a dry eye in the house!
The book explores a lot of issues but in a sensitive way. these include love, separation, divorce, assault, betrayal and alcoholism. These are all central themes to the story, and although I would not describe the novel as 'heavy', does not always make for light reading.
The title of the book is quite intriguing. Very early on, after their first unplanned meeting, Kyle invites Kendra for breakfast. She reluctantly accepts, not wanting to get involved, and turns up to what can only be described as chaos! She somehow manages to turn the situation around by telling the children that Saturday breakfasts are special - they have to have matching bowls and put a bag of wishes in with their cereal. The children go along with her and Summer pronounces that her's tastes of marshmallows - hence the title! The breakfast theme runs throughout the book, with every few chapters sectioned off under something else that you might have for breakfast. I have to admit that I wasn't sure of the significance of all these!
Overall though this is an excellent book which I enjoyed from the first page. It was an emotional read and a book that made you think, but overall it is a very uplifting book and really celebrates the love and joy that young children can bring into your lives - even if they are not your own!
The book is published by Sphere, nd my paperback version with 440 pages, has a RRP of £6.99.
Dorothy Koomson first came to my attention last year when her novel "My Best Friend's Girl" was one of Richard and Judy's Summer Reads 2006. I adored that story and when I saw in Waterstones that she had another book coming out, I went straight in and bought it, and I am glad I did. It was one of the most moving stories I have read for a long time, wonderfull, sensitively written, and a joy to read.
The author Dorothy Koomson has been writing since she was 13, and shared her novel around her schoolfriends. She grew up in London and went to University at Leeds. She finally got her big break writing for magazines. Her first novel The Cupid Effect was her first published book, but it was her third book My Best Friends Girl was a runaway success after Richard and Judy. Dorothy, like Kendra in the novel, also lived in Sydney, Australia until recently when she came back to the UK.
Now to the novel. The book follows one main character, a black female called Kendra Tamale.Koomson's lead female characters have both been black so far, and this is mentioned early on in this book, unlike in her other novel when it was left until nearly the end. Anyway, we join the story just as Kendra has moved from Australia back to England because of something that happened in her life over there that she is running awa from But we are not told what it is.
She has a flat in the grounds of a larger house, and doesn't expect to be having any contact with the residents aka her landlord. But she is rudely wakened on her first morning in the flat when her landlords 2 young children Summer and Jaxon burst into her house. This leaves Kendra wanting to leave her flat, but she realises that she can't. The children seem to have taken a liking to Kendra, and keep popping over. Kendra really makes a breakthrough when she makes Saturday breakfast for the children...a little magic goes a long way ;-)
Kendra meets Kyle, who is the children's father, and clearly struggling to cope looking after two 6 year old twins. Kendra does not initially like Kyle but the pair have a mutual respect for each other after a few talks. Kyle comes to rely on Kendra to look after the children, but in return Kendra is determined to find out what happened to the twins mother Ashlyn. We do find out later in the book, and Ashyln does make an appearance. However, when Ashlyn comes back, Kendra realises she may lose the children, making her heart-breaking secret even more real.
We also are shown Kendra at work. She works for her friend Gabrielle as a Recruitment Consultant, but does not get on with one of her colleagues, but Kendra is very cool and calm when her younger colleague tries to wind her up. However, Kendra loses it when a letter from Australia turns up, and she does not know how to deal with it. We do not know what the heck happened in Australia but we are told it involves a married man named Will.
Now of course by the end of the book, everything has been explained to us, we understand what the letter was about, and what happened in Australia that maade Kendra run all the way back to England. I had kind of guessed the main mystery theme throughout the book from the beginning as I thought it could only have been one thing, but it was still nice to realie that I was right. The letter thing with Will is also nicely tied up, with a pleasant ending that doesn't disappoint.
The book is a heart-warming tale of love, love for each other, love for children, and how it is possible to come through a terrible situation with the help of the people around you. Koomson has written a wonderful book here, and I admit I did shed a slight tear at the end. I would recommend you read this, you will feel happy with your life and everything you have afterwards! Definitely a ten out of ten!
Read more about the author and her other books at her website:
When Kendra Tamale returns to UK from Australia she rents a room from Kyle, a divorced father of two, and begins a new life and a new job. She's looking forward to a fresh start and simple life. Kyle's five-year-old twins, Summer and Jaxon, have other ideas and quickly adopt Kendra as their new mother - mainly because she lets them eat marshmallows for breakfast. Kendra eventually becomes a part of their lives, even though she's hiding a painful secret that makes her keep everyone - especially children - at arm's length. Then Kendra bumps into the man who shares her awful secret, and things fall apart: she can't sleep, she can't eat, she's suspended from work, and the kids are taken away by their mother. The only way to fix things is to confess to the terrible mistake she made all those years ago. But that's something she swore never to do.