Growing up is seldom easy and that is certainly the case for Sooky, an only child coming of age in Brisbane, Australia. Sooky’s parents make it clear that the less they see or hear of her, the better which makes the molestation by Lionel, a trusted neighbor all the more heartbreaking. Between the emotional abuse of her home environment and Lionel’s sexual abuse, it is no surprise that Sooky has plenty of relationship issues as an adult.Sooky finds some measure of solace in her artwork, which eventually drew her to England where she hoped to parley it into a livelihood. Unfortunately, her considerable emotional baggage also made the trip causing Sooky to bounce from one destructive relationship to another while seemingly working at spurning healthy ties. A doomed marriage to Lionel’s son did nothing to help Sooky’s self-image yet for all the doom and gloom, this manages to be a story of hope. Sooky has a depth of character and wit that sustains her even as the voices in her head seek to tear her down until she decides to live for herself, not what others expect of her.
Abuse of any kind is challenging subject to write about yet McMaster manages it with a deft touch. It is difficult to like Sooky as her viewpoint of the world is quite hypocritical, she seems to exhibit many of the personality traits she claims to hate and continues to make poor choices in spite of herself. The self-depreciating humor does lighten up the tone and the ending is just ambiguous enough to linger, overall this is a strong first novel.