By Kate Armstrong
Published by Holland House
Kate Armstrong's novel, The Storyteller, is a story of coming of age, depression, isolation and relationships.
In a psychiatric ward, Iris an elderly writer, insists on writing Rachel's biography, a young girl, recently admitted to the ward. Rachel can not resist this tempting offer - to be fictionalised, her life captured.
Rachel has lost her sense of self after being discharged from the hospital and finds herself drifting from one experience to another, isolated from society, unable to cling to reality or relationships. Armstrong captures the feelings of being lost, emptiness and fear of mental health, showing Rachel directionless with no support. The writing style pulls the reader into Rachel's emotional state - the world around the characters and the reader is claustrophobic.
Rachel is disconnected from society and herself. She wanders through her life detached, observing other people's behaviour, trying hard to relate within the romantic and friendship relationships she has but finds herself drifting away. She looks for physical relationships, and uses these to anchor herself with reality.
The reader is always left wondering if this reality of Rachel is the one that she is actually living. The story is being told by Iris so the reader is left wondering, much like Rachel wonders, if we are in the correct reality. Armstrong builds up the claustrophobia with each narrative - Rachel's story is layered with Iris's version of rachel's story and then Iris own story is plastered across the top.
This is an intense coming of age story with sharp observations around mental health issues. If you're looking for something a bit different this summer then pick up The Storyteller as you won't be disappointed. You can order The Storyteller from your favourite bookshop.
I was sent a copy via the publisher.