Whisky Charlie Foxtrot
Well, I'm going to be recommending this one to anyone who is looking for a book to discuss at their book club this month.
Charlie Ferns and his twin brother Whisky (William) have been through a lot together. They've grown up as two sides of the same coin- but in Charlie's eyes Whisky has always been the twin who has been better off. Older, taller, cooler, Whisky is both the object of Charlie's admiration and his scorn. And as Whisky spends the better part of the novel in a coma, Charlie's world view is the only one we see.
Readers with siblings will identify with the feelings of inadequacy which accompany having attractive, talented and popular siblings and the effects that such thinking can have on family relationships. The novel takes the situation and draws it to an extreme- what if the sibling that you've spent your whole life resenting could be taken away from you?- then asks the reader to consider the consequences. Smith's prose is casual but lyrical, and her use of the phonetic alphabet to structure flashbacks provides an interesting insight into the novel's theme of communication. At times a need to stick to this structuring seems to have lead the writer down some strange pathways- for example the introduction of a character "Mike" who turns out to be the twins' brother, adopted at birth- but suspend your doubt and allow Smith to reward you with her charming and original plot. There are no soap opera histrionics here.
I give this book four out of five.