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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Unbecoming by Jenny Downham

Publication Date: September 3rd 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
My Goodreads Rating: 4/5
Source: Own copy

Three women and three secrets create one compelling story in Jenny Downham's Unbecoming.

17-year old Katie falls in love with the wrong person- or so she thinks. She keeps up her secret tryst without revealing the identity of the one her heart yearns.

Caroline, Katie's mother, is rigid and strict and afraid of her past becoming her present. Her confusing childhood has taught her to constantly protect her children.

Mary, Caroline's mother, makes a startling  reappearance in her daughter's life after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's following the death of her husband. Still capable of breaking all the rules, Mary is not your usual grandmother.

Katie spends her summer caring for Mary, attempting to learn about her mother's disgruntled attitude towards her. As Mary struggles to grasp her memories she reveals her family's secrets to Katie, the rule-abiding young girl who Mary somehow sees herself in. Inspired by Mary, Katie begins to discover herself and uncover the truth about her mother.

Before I begin reviewing this fabulous book, let me just say that I first learned about this book at BookbyBook a great blog written by Sue Jackson. Her great review inspired me to pick up Unbecoming and I'm so glad that I did- because I absolutely loved the book!

Katie's struggles are portrayed through her distance from her friends, constant self-questioning, yearning for her mother's approval and her itch to be with someone no one would approve of. Mary's struggles are portrayed through her constant confusion, love for her late husband, and inability to accept her new circumstances.

As Katie and Mary get to know each other better, Caroline debates whether or not to tell her daughter the truth. When Mary influences Katie more than she does however, Caroline starts to feel left out and frustrated- for reasons no one understands.

Jenny Downham has succeeded in creating multiple points of view effectively. Mary relives her memories, allowing a second story to follow along Katie's current one. The style and narration of both differ enough to create a new perspective, but one can also draw some similarities between the girl and her grandmother.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who likes reading intertwined stories. If you enjoy historical fictions combined with modern stories- like Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay- you will definitely enjoy this book, although it is not really a historical fiction. The diversity is also another key selling point of the story and it can be perceived as a self-discovery novel as well.

I hope you all pick up this novel- I'm sure you'll love it! Don't forget to stop by Sue's blog and check out her work as well!


  1. I picked up a novel by this author years ago and I just remember it was a really emotional read. I don't read a lot of books that focus on different generations in a family, but when I do, I really appreciate how the author develops the characters as individuals while also showing how their stories influence one another. It sounds like this one does a good job of doing just that. Lovely review!

    1. I haven't read anything else by Jenny Downham, although I'm really looking forward to trying out some more of her work!

      Thanks for stopping by Alicia!


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