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A Million Things

by Emily Spurr

A Million Things by Emily Spurr X
A Million Things by Emily Spurr
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    Aug 2021, 304 pages

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Tony C.

Hoard Copies of This
“A Million Things” by Emily Spurr takes a semi-common theme and mixes it with a new narrative style. Rae ends up “home alone” when her mother disappears, but she narrates and writes in a diary to her parent. She keeps her head down and avoids attention until her older neighbor falls and needs her help. So many write about misanthropes nowadays, but Rae manages well, and we root for her.
The abandonment theme will remind many of another great novel, “Where the Crawdads Sing,” and the comparisons qualify. Here, we have a younger child of 10 and at least the hope that the parents will return. The other motif, where an adult with problems meets a kid and develops an unlikely bond, has been done before, but Spurr does it well, creating a rare air of sympathy for a hoarder. Society seldom does that.

Seeing the events unfold from the eyes of a child will enchant you because Rae has wisdom beyond her years. Encountering an adult with an equal desire to maintain a secret creates an instant bond that makes the abandonment hurt less. To take an abandoned child and make her the one for whom you feel less sorry is a feat in writing. I, for instance, need to clean my house but wouldn’t cry if someone pulled papers into the trash.

You go pretty far in the novel without resolving the central conflict. A reader with children around the same age as the protagonist will cringe at the vision of their offspring trying to make it on their own with only their ingenuity. Automatically, I thought of shows like “The First 48” and wondered how long such a discovery would take. Even the most intelligent child would have some “tells despite small-town secrecy.”

Reading about abandonment in any form would challenge the most strong-willed of readers. But, by the end, you feel like you know Rae and Lettie and wish the best to them. Could you survive on your own at age 10? However, Emily Spurr has some secrets, like the underrated film “The Upside of Anger.” Things are not always like they seem, and sometimes the answer will sadden you more than your original assumptions.
Gabi

Friendship Across The Ages
For readers who loved “The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett” - here is another exceptional book about a very special and heartwarming friendship, forged by tough life circumstances, between a young girl and her elderly neighbor. I loved it - but needed a few extra tissues on hand.
Lena, Lund, Sweden

Such a great debut
This is such a great and moving story told with so much empathy. The way Emily Spurr describes Ray, her loss and her loneliness and how Rae tries to handle her situation, the love of her dog Splinter and the growing friendship with Lettie, the grumpy old lady next door and how it becomes a total life change for both of them… it is all overwhelming and has to be read! The end I will not mention. It is a great book!
Marissa Panigrosso

Awesome
Wonderful book on the order of Where the Crawdad Sings. The characters are so well developed and quirky. The book keeps pulling you in and never wanting it to end.
Cherryl V. (San Francisco, CA)

Lovely read
A captivating read that's hard to put down, this book is one of my favorite new releases in 2021. It reframes the notion of family and what it means to belong and find your place in the world. Really timely and thought-provoking.
DeAnn A. (Denver, CO)

Emotional Debut Story
This book really snuck up on me and then proceeded to rip my heart out. It has been a while since I had to stop reading because of the tears pouring down my face.

Rae is a precocious ten-year-old and loves her trusty dog Splinter. Her nosy older neighbor Lettie cries out for help one day. Soon this unlikely pair are spending more time together as they both deal with secrets and loneliness. These characters are so memorable! This debut made me ponder how we define family and how we best help people with mental illness.
Ann B. (Kernville, CA)

tugs at the heartstrings
I devoured this debut novel by Australian author Emily Spurr. Remarkable for its theme, its characters, and its humanity, the book is written from the second-person point of view, the 'you' directed at the narrator's mother. I won't soon forget narrator Rae, her neighbor Lettie, or her sweet beast of a dog Splinters. But the nameless mother is also an interesting character, more so because she develops in the literary equivalent of negative space.
Karen B. (Crestwood, KY)

Heartfelt, emotional debut
Secrets and sadness, loss and connection, resilience and revelations -- just a few of the many things that Emily Spurr writes of so eloquently and authentically in A Million Things. She explores grief and loneliness without melodrama, leaving room for hope and happiness. Highly recommended.

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