My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Time taken to read - 1 day
Pages - 247
Publisher - Hodder & Stoughton
Blurb from Goodreads
3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 · rating details · 56 ratings · 19 reviews
Imagine if you couldn't see, couldn't hear, couldn't speak... Then, one day, somebody took your hand and opened the world up to you.
Adeliza Golding is a deaf-blind girl, born in late Victorian England on her father's hop farm. Unable to interact with her loving family, she exists in a world of darkness and confusion; her only communication is with the ghosts she speaks to in her head, whom she has christened the 'Visitors'. One day she runs out into the fields and a young hop-picker, Lottie, grabs her hand and starts drawing shapes in it. Finally Liza can communicate.
Her friendship with her teacher and with Lottie's beloved brother Caleb leads her from the hop gardens and oyster beds of Kent to the dusty veldt of South Africa and the Boer War, and ultimately to the truth about the Visitors.
Rebecca Mascull's first novel is the tale of a wonderful friendship, but it is also a thrilling adventure, a heartbreaking love story and a compelling ghost story.
The story opens with our main character, Adeliza (Liza) Golding and takes us from the moment she is born up to and throughout her adult life. After birth she describes seeing the visitors, which turn out to be ghosts although she doesn't cover too much detail here. We are then told about how she comes to be deaf and blind and how this affects her behavior as she is growing up. She is angry, aggressive and almost feral in her frustration and loneliness until she is 6 years old and a chance encounter with Lottie changes everything. Lottie teaches Liza how to communicate which impacts upon her quality of life and opens up a new world for her. The book is then focused upon her becoming an adult, the war and how this affects her life and relationships.
The first part of this book moved me, if you have a family member or friend who is blind or deaf I think you may feel the same. Having someone who is so isolated and being helpless to do anything about it, I could appreciate how that must be for Liza's father although that isn't heavily featured in the book. How Lottie manages to change Liza's whole life, with patience and giving her the means to communicate was beautiful. Her experiences and how everything changes through having access to talk to others and seeing the character bloom was just wonderful.
The next part focuses on her interactions as an adult, her character growth, war and the visitors. As a child she meets and is taken with Caleb, Lottie's twin brother. As war is coming he is caught up in that and writes home to Liza and Lottie about what he sees and experiences which takes the novel down a darker path. Whilst the letters gave a stark look at the horrors seen whilst out in the field during war and they were interesting, they were a world away from the style and theme of the beginning of the book. I think some readers may like this contrast however for me I would have preferred it to be delivered maybe in a different format?
The ghost aspect is quite different, Liza isn't sure how she can see them when others cannot. What is the purpose to it, why her? Some questions are answered but not all and whilst this generally irks me when I am reading, I didn't mind the unanswered questions as you discovered answers along with Liza and accept her view point on it all, well I did.
I think this is a well written debut novel and can't describe how, on a personal level, watching the beginning of a new world opening for Lottie warmed me. It was a delight to read and I don't think I have read anything like it before. This writer has so much more to share with the reading world and I hope she continues to write, I will certainly be looking for any new material from her, 4/5 for me this time.