Ginger and Me – Elissa Soave

All Wendy wants is a friend, but is she ready for Ginger?

Wendy is the driver of the 255 Uddingston bus. Her regulars love her, quirks and all, and since her mum died, they’re really the only company she has. Because Wendy is often misunderstood (and she frequently misunderstands, even if she doesn’t know it) but she’s only nineteen and she needs to show her social worker she is managing fine.

So Wendy joins a writing group and follows her favourite writer on Twitter. She might get a little bit obsessed but no harm done…and then she meets Ginger. For the first time, Wendy has a real best friend, but she doesn’t realise just how much trouble Ginger can get them in to…

Ginger and Me is the debut novel from Glasgow-based Elissa Soave, winner of the inaugural Primadonna Prize. It’s a story of a young woman who is trying to find her place in a world that doesn’t quite understand her; sometimes Wendy can’t see the problem, at others she’s confused. It all leads to a skilled mix of light and dark, humour and tragedy, and an accessible and thought-provoking read.

At the outset we know that something dramatic, life-changing has happened, but Wendy assures us it’s all going to be okay – nothing but a misunderstanding – and as the book zips along, allowing the reader to get to know Wendy and see what she can’t, we’re in two minds as to who is ultimately responsible for what has happened. And we’re left wondering just what Wendy will do next.

Ginger and Me is a great read from a highly talented author. The Glasgow suburb of Uddingston is a character in its own right, and Wendy’s day to day life is acutely, often wittily observed. Occasionally I faltered – could Wendy really have got through the training to be a bus driver and hold down such a responsible job? And two-thirds of the novel was perfectly paced, then the rest, the dramatic ending came across as very rushed. However, these are quibbles and certainly would not stop me highly recommending Ginger and Me and already looking forward to Elissa Soave’s next novel.

Published by HQ. Available in hardback and eBook.

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