Saturday, 30 March 2019
Review by Sally Shaw of "Disappearing Home" by Deborah Morgan
Disappearing Home is a poignant and beautifully-written novel told from the point of view of Robyn, a ten-year-old girl growing up in 1970s Liverpool. Home is the second floor of a tenement block known as Tommy Whites. Her parents send Robyn into a shop, and they expect her to steal everything on the list. This is the opening chapter of the novel; Robyn is more troubled by the dirty bag with the leather handles, worn and frayed down to the white wire that cuts into her hands. She does not want to steal but knows refusal is not an option.
Robyn is a girl caught between love and hate, fear and family secrets, taking a dangerous journey to find out who she is, confront her feelings of being an outsider and find answers to her questions. Robyn learns the realities of life through her experiences of her parents, school, a Saturday job, friends, a local disco, enemies, her Nan’s love and the increasing cruelty she experiences at home.
The novel follows Robyn through life-changing events, moving up into senior school and realising that people are not always who they appear to be. She begins to understand that her increasingly violent home life is not normal and sets out to try and find out why.
The voice of Robyn provides a truth and reality to the novel; her voice makes the reader laugh at times and then feel the pain and fear she and her mother encounter. The love of Robyn’s Nan is demonstrated beautifully when Nan shares her coat with Robyn: ‘When we have finished eating, both of us share the coat, one sleeve each. With the empty cake box, we shuffle over to the bin, laughing, rolled tightly together, like a Twix.’
Ultimately Robyn wants to wake-up not feeling scared – and that’s also what we, as readers, want for her too.
About the reviewer
Sally is a full-time MA Creative Writing student at the University of Leicester. She writes short stories and poetry. She gains inspiration from old photographs, history and she is inspired by writers Sandra Cisneros and Liz Berry. Her short prose piece, 'A School Photograph' has been published online by NEWMAG. She worked as a nurse for 33 years and lives in North Warwickshire with her partner, three pekin bantams and Bob the dog.