Welcome to Dymphna's Book Club here on The Big Breakfast Blaa. Here, there is always a warm cuppa, a roaring fire, the comforting crack of the spine as the book opens, and a friend to talk about the book with. (That would be me, I am THAT friend!)
January was filled with the hottest best-sellers of the Christmas charts, and with that in mind, we kick off this month's Book Club with 'Poor' by Katriona O'Sullivan.
'Poor' by Katriona O'Sullivan
As the middle of five kids growing up in dire poverty, the odds were low on Katriona O'Sullivan making anything of her life. When she became a mother at 15 and ended up homeless, what followed were five years of barely coping. This is the extraordinary story - moving, funny, brave, and sometimes startling - of how Katriona turned her life around. How the seeds of self-belief planted by teachers in childhood stayed with her. How she found mentors whose encouragement revitalised those seeds in adulthood, leading her to become an award-winning academic whose work challenges barriers to education. Poor is not only Katriona's story, but is also her impassioned argument for the importance of looking out for our kids' futures. Of giving them hope, practical support and meaningful opportunities.
While this is, at times, a very triggering and difficult read, it is also a brave and honest re-telling of how the horrors of childhood carry power over us. As adults, we are shaped by the world of childhood, our morals and values mirroring those passed on to us by family. Katriona's story is inspirational, offering hope amid such bleak prospects, as she changed the narrative of her story and in doing so, took back the power of her own story.
Lexi is on top of the world, the podcast she co-hosts with her ride-or-die bestie is going stratospheric. But will all this fame and success cost them their friendship? Joanne's just had a baby But her pals keep forgetting that she's no longer available for tequila-fuelled nights out. She loves her son and her boyfriend but the loneliness is killing her. Claire is feeling left out The Whatsapp chat with her old school friends is ominously quiet these days, which can only mean one thing: a side group without her. Can she convince them to give her another chance, or is it time to move on and seek out new BFFs? Fate brings Claire, Joanne and Lexi together as they navigate the knotty, joyful and occasionally toxic swamp that is female friendship. But how will they each decide which friendships to fight for, and which to let go forever?
I chose this book because we often talk about the fears we have when children are starting school, will they make a friend, will those friendships survive the test of time as children evolve into teenagers? However, little is said about the other friendships, the ones which we cling to as adults because without them, we are alone. Adults can find themselves trapped in a hamster-wheel of the school run, the pressing work schedule, juggling a marriage with heavy eye-lids- knowing that your marriage needs you to stay up a little later to watch a film together, but you inevitably fall asleep on the couch during the first few minutes of the film. Amidst all of this pressure, where do friendships survive, thrive, and how resilient must they be in order to shoulder the storm of you cancelling every single plan because you're just too tired? This is funny, engaging, a rapid page-turner, with a deeply thought-provoking core.
The seemingly inexplicable estrangement between a woman and her grown daughter opens up a troubling question: What damage do we do in the blindness of love?