#BlogTour – #BookReview of #OnTheUp by @AliceOKeeffe @HodderBooks @JennyPlatt90

For my second post of the day, I’m thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for the poignant and moving On The Up by Alice O’Keeffe. Thank you to Jenny Platt for the invitation and to Hodder & Stoughton for my copy of this superb book.

About the book:

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Warm, witty and brilliantly observed, On the Up is about relationships and community, finding a way through the tough times, and figuring out what’s really worth fighting for.

This is a book that makes the personal political, and vice versa. Perfect for fans of The Lido by Libby Page, Expectation by Anna Hope and Ordinary People by Diana Evans.

By reading Style magazine, I was training myself not to want things. It was going quite well. I had already found that I did not want a pair of Yves Saint Laurent mules, a chandelier made from plastic antlers, or a diamond-encrusted necklace in the shape of a pineapple. I was still working on not wanting a fitted farmhouse kitchen in warm wood.

Sylvia lives in a flat on a council estate with her not-quite-husband Obe and their two young children. She dreams of buying a house on a leafy street like the one she grew up in. If she closes her eyes, she can see it all so clearly: the stripped floorboards, the
wisteria growing around the door…

It’s not ideal that she’s about to be made redundant, or that Obe, a playworker, is never going to earn more than the minimum wage. As sleep deprivation sets in, and the RnB downstairs gets ever louder, Sylvia’s life starts to unravel.

But when the estate is earmarked for redevelopment, the threat to her community gives Sylvia a renewed sense of purpose. With a bit of help from her activist sister, and her film- maker friend Frankie, she’s ready to take a stand for what she believes in.

About the author:

Alice O’Keeffe is a freelance writer and journalist. She was deputy editor of the Guardian’s Saturday Review section, and writes book reviews, interviews and features for the Guardian, Observer and New Statesman. She has been a speechwriter at the Department for Education and literary programmer at the Brighton Festival. Alice lives in Brighton with her husband and two children.

My Review:

Oh my, what a fantastic and uplifting read this book is! With warm and memorable characters, On the Up by Alice O’Keeffe is a very true to life read that explores the harsh realities of life in the world we live in today.

Sylvia lives in a council flat with her not-quite-husband Obe and their two young children. She dreams of escaping life on the council estate and moving into a nice house on a leafy street like the one she grew up in. She can see it all so clearly, but knows that the likelihood of it happening any time soon would be nothing short of a miracle. Her own job is under threat and Obe, a playworker, is never going to earn more than the living wage. Add to that two demanding children, sleep deprivation and noisy downstairs neighbours, is it any wonder that Sylvia’s life is beginning to unravel?

But then the estate is earmarked for redevelopment and Sylvia, much to her own surprise, finds the sudden threat to her community gives her a renewed sense of purpose. Along with her activist sister and film maker friend, Frankie, Sylvia knows that she has no other choice than to stand up for what she believes in.

I found myself most drawn to Sylvia, especially as she is slowly drawn out of her shell, ready to fight for the community she had been so desperate to escape from only a short time ago. I loved the multicultural feel of the story as Alice O’Keeffe skillfully brought these warm and wonderful characters so vividly to life. The sense of community Sylvia experiences in the fight to save their homes from demolition is a pure delight, leaving me feeling hopeful that maybe, just maybe, there are still communities such as this in the uncertain world we live in today.

On the Up is a hauntingly beautiful story of life, love, family and community. It’s a story about finding your own place in a world full of uncertainty and how unbelievably rewarding it can be when you finally find something to stand up for that you can truly believe in. It’s a poignant and moving story, with characters I loved from the start and didn’t want to say goodbye to.

A warm, uplifting debut novel that I would highly recommend. Superb!

On the Up by Alice O’Keefe is available to buy now: Amazon UK

Check out what these other lovely bloggers have to say about this book:

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