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One Shot - review

 This is a superbly written and very powerful and deeply moving book.

Barrington Stoke are the par excellence of finding talent to do the right thing, they get writers to write for those who struggle or have real difficulties in actually just reading. They are getting wider notice and I really hope mainstream libraries and readers consider a way to promote their books as much as they can.

Read it because it’s accessible and brilliant as opposed to the slightly misguided ‘reluctant readers’ tag that perhaps just stops everyone else actually reading the book. Weird how some branding/labels work against the way we want.

Tanya has written a tour de force of a force of nature, Annie Oakley, she who had Annie get your gun as a stage musical 50 years after her time. She was a true pioneer, who as it goes just did something natural for her as well as anyone but had style and a real inner peace that allowed her to be a star.

The anecdote of her finding real friendship with Sitting Bull in the 1880s after he was basically made a scapegoat for trying to overcome an oppression and exodus like arguably no other since Moses.

In the book, Tanya takes reality and hides it perfectly in a story, one that captures instantly the period, the sheer horror of a time when a country was evolving, but had no moral compass or benefit system, when surviving was just that, it mirrors Dickens  and is truly a book that works both as a historical account but also as a coming of age story, one told about a resilient and resourceful, kind and beautiful person, who is alone when she should have a family. A family who disown her and throws her to the orphanage, where she overcomes adversity and grows into a caring, hardworking and fiery character. At 8 she tries to feed her family, taking the old-fashioned musket like gun of her beloved Pa and shooting a squirrel through the eye with just one shot, instead of grateful thanks, her mother sadly takes her to the workhouse. This is so well written and brutal in it’s understanding of just how people thought and acted when they have no compassion or understanding, sadly it still occurs in this wonderful webbed 21st Century I feel.

 Annie has to endure such pain and beatings, it is beyond abuse it is akin to what the alleged Sisters of Mercy did in the wash-houses in Ireland. And in the book, she is actually Maggie, not Annie, pardon me!

After 8 torrid years she is cast out as a woman at 16, go work hard and build a family... and tries to reconcile with her family, what she does is astonishing and shows true altruism and belief in herself to do her best. When she meets the travelling sharpshooter, a mirror of Bill Hickock, here a flashy but deeply decent man who engages in a love letter romance via his dog, which is so poignant and all the time, we must reflect, times were hard, the social history Tanya gets into the flowing and powerful narrative is superb, this book will educate, it will shock too, one scene of really just a few lines says so much and comes back years later to perhaps point out that actions matter no matter what words can say.

This book needs wider reading, it is ideal for those who don’t engage or indeed struggle with reading, they hopefully will flourish with the work of fab authors like this and the range that Barrington Stoke issues. I would say that the emotional content makes it a 12 really, don’t yell at me about age banding, I’m being honest. I adored the book, it was heart wrenching and told with amazing pace and involvement for so few words.