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Rose, Interrupted - review

Patrice has established herself as a must read for discerning modern reader. Plus her foray into WBD will have helped too!

Her ability to be cultural and diverse is a great balance, certainly  when she introduces hard hitting topics that are very modern, to use a system of old fashioned beliefs and zealousness to shun modernity as the underlying plot device is exquisite. 

We immediately know enough about her 'Brethren' a puritanical group of modernity shunning religious zealots, if you think of the simplicity of the Amish as seen in Witness in the 80's which is a fine film, they weren't allowed any contact with modernity, here the Pilgrims act slightly more like Jehovah's Witnesses going on excursions to set up their leaflet giving stands and banging on doors with their literature.

We meet Rose and the quaintly named Rudder, her younger brother who is the epitome of tormented soul, he still misses actually being a Pilgrim, even though something quite horrible happened to him that meant he and his sister and mother left or were 'excised'.

Rose has developed a plan to be 'decommissioned' it's told partly with extracted diary and mostly with her wonderful balance of integration into 'ordinary' life juxtaposed against a social commentary of the plight of the underclass she has fallen into, those who work 3 jobs to earn less than the minimum wage and rely on food banks and avoiding bills, it's powerful stuff, very very well written too. Her mother is quite a beautiful character, we sadly needed a little more of her voice I feel, but she works very very well as a showpiece of determination and effort with pure love at her heart.

Rudder does get explained, I did puzzle over his name as it didn't immediately fit with the olde style male names of the Brothers,  Uncles and Elders, all of whom are old testament really! Amos, Enoch, Obadiah et all...  The womenfolk were on the whole more normal sounding, Lily-Beth, Gayle and Rose of course, but the underlying matriarchy of Sisters and Aunty's and Mothers is in fitting with the male side.

Rose is in love or as near to it as she could ever be, she tingles and craves her time and contact with Kye, he of course, no spoiler, is a bit of a male pig...

The story is told with subtlety and detail in equal measures, we get the apt and telling social commentary and division of beliefs over belief. 

This is important as the dual narrative of seeing things from a non conforming zealous 'cult' or 'religion' or 'system' of belief as opposed to the ever flowing dynamic of the modern system of disbelief based on lack of beliefs.

The 1620 Plymouth Brethren or Pilgrim Fathers of yore are most likely the origin story here, The Mayflower sailed to Massachusetts with the disconcerted Puritans who had fled here, Holland and Ireland. Possibly mixed in to add a flavour is the post Inquisition Dominican Order of Philip III of Spain as partly with the main family being called Santos, that feels like a fit of sorts. Certainly with the Libros Rojos as their grail of Puritanical Zeal held only by the male Elders... I assume it's simply a 'Red Book' like many old bibles were...

 It was a puzzling time back then, religion did cause a lot of disharmony and the insulation within their communities then is mirrored brilliantly here, we get little glimpses of wanting some ordinary modernity due to the 'right' person saying it's a progressive move, but really it's a worrying look at how to avoid anything modern for the exclusivity of striving for a pure life and ascension with a clean slate, all very much seen in certain cults.

We must add that the plot of what modern technology and it's potential for devilment and spreading like a virus of disgust is equally well measured. Rose and her ability to act and overcome pretty much all that is stacked against her is just delightful, she really is such a strong and brilliant character, it's a shame she may only exist in this one book!

The almost nasty look at life in the underclass of 'near us' is done with a beautiful brutality, but also with flair for humour within situations, it's not laughingly funny it's ironical and observational. The stuff about Harry Potter and squibs being one instance. Playing Simon and Garfunkel who are seriously the best duo you will ever hear for lyricism, observation and harmony. They are used cleverly as the unheard soundtrack for how Rudder deals with life. Plus his love of Maria and dance!

But we must touch on Rose and her perils, she shows how easily you can succumb to temptations and the woes of the digital age. Yet, she is also able to be practical and old fashioned in many ways. She is ever resourceful and so, so brave. Her decisions are an integral part of the plot, you really do get a feel for her and the situation she is in, she is so unselfish and really is a beacon of what we all could be in relation to choices made. I always try and not do spoilers, I want a feel for the book and what it maybe about not a telling of what happens. I'd like to think a few of you read within the reading of that I try and do.

Part detective novel, certainly part observation on morality and class and genuinely a very powerful look at beliefs and controls made by those in power, this is a very compelling book, but is equally easy to read. Patrice has a real way with words, she throws in the stuff that eases the worry of understanding bigger pictures with ease, you can just go with the story and feel it.

I am sure this book will be up for  prizes both nationally and regionally and her expanded references that will come at the end will lend it to discussions and book group use. We need books like this, ones that tell us stuff but with flair and imagination and a feel for  life and what it is like for today's troubled youth, stuck in their perilous limbo of decisions and actions with consequences. 

25th July is the Publication date and I'm sure Patrice will be at Festivals and bookshops, seek her out and buy and read this brilliant book.