A Million Things by Emily Spurr

‘Silence isn’t really silent.’

Suddenly, Rae and her dog Splinter are on their own. Her mum is gone. Rae’s determined to manage on her own. She can use her mum’s debit card to buy food and pay the bills, she can take care of Splinter and, if she keeps the front yard tidy, perhaps she will be left alone. Rae is afraid though, and while she knows she cannot trust the world, she is afraid that people will learn that her mum is gone.

This novel portrays Rae’s life for fifty-five days as she takes care of herself and Splinter. Rae’s used to her mum disappearing for a while, she knows what to do. But this is not the same.

Next door lives a grumpy old woman called Lettie. Lettie has her own secrets, her own ways of keeping people at arm’s length. Rae is worried about what will happen when her money runs out, and when her mother’s absence is noticed. Rae rescues Lettie after a fall, and the two of them form an unlikely but guarded alliance. Then there’s Lucy down the street who keeps wanting to speak with Rae’s mum, and her son Oscar who want to be Rae’s friend.

What a wonderful debut novel this is. Lettie and Rae are well realised characters, each dealing with difficult situations and relaxing into a comfortable companionship. But Rae cannot keep her secret, especially after she receives an eviction notice.

And the ending? You will need to read it for yourself.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Text Publishing for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith