Me and Mr Booker by Cory Taylor
Published by Sandstone Press in 2015
Book 4 in my January Kindle Challenge
Looking back, Martha could’ve said no when Mr Booker first tried to kiss her. That would’ve been the sensible thing to do. But Martha is sixteen, she lives in a small dull town – a cemetery with lights – her father is mad, her home is stifling, and she’s waiting for the rest of her life to begin. Of course Martha would kiss the charming Englishman who brightened her world with style, adventure, whisky, cigarettes and sex. But Martha didn’t count on the consequences. Me and Mr Booker is a story about feeling old when you’re young and acting young when you’re not.
I really had no idea what to expect from this novel, but it definitely sucked me in straight away. Martha is a precocious 16-year-old who lives with her mum in a boring town in Australia. Straight away you know Martha is fed up and wants more from life, and is sick of living in the small town. She is also fed up of her hopeless father who, although being separated from the family, constantly turns up, usually looking for money.
We are quickly introduced to Mr and Mrs Booker, over from England and exotic and glamorous to Martha’s eyes. Both heavy drinkers, they soon become firm friends with Martha and her mother, and before long Martha and Mr Booker are involved in a full-blown affair.
I really liked this novel and read it over the course of just a day or two. It was less shocking than I expected – and actually I found Martha’s father much more offensive than Mr Booker. I also liked the fact that the whole story was told from Martha’s point of view – we saw other characters through her young eyes and realised how naïve she was at times – even if she herself was unaware of this and thought herself to be very worldly.
I imagine some readers would be disappointed in some ways by this book as really not very much happens, and although there is closure to the story at the end it did feel like the affair hadn’t had quite the impact on others that I may have expected. It did lack a big, dramatic scene I think. However overall this didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the novel. It was an easy read and the characters were interesting, if frequently unlikeable, and I do think Martha was well portrayed; a young girl with hopes and ambitions that were perhaps beyond her, and a lack of understanding of the world around her.