Title: The Other Half of Augusta Hope
Author: Joanna Glen
Publisher: 13th June 2019 by HarperCollins Publishers Australia - The Borough Press
Pages: 384 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: general fiction
My Rating: 4.5 cups
Augusta Hope has never felt like she fits in. At six, she’s memorising the dictionary. At seven, she’s correcting her teachers. At eight, she spins the globe and picks her favourite country on the sound of its name: Burundi. And now that she's an adult, Augusta has no interest in the goings-on of the small town where she lives with her parents and her beloved twin sister, Julia. When an unspeakable tragedy upends everything in Augusta's life, she's propelled headfirst into the unknown. She's determined to find where she belongs – but what if her true home, and heart, are half a world away?
‘There are places–aren’t there? Places which are so full of feeling you hardly dare return to them. I wonder which place it is for you.’
This is really a rather extraordinary book. Upon completion, events remains with you and the significance of the message grows stronger. At first it seems a little ‘left of centre’, especially considering the rather unique style of writing. Then you begin to realise that is the whole point - Augusta Hope is ‘left of centre and a most unique character. This book will grow on you as it is clever ... and funny ... and sad. Very sad.
‘I didn’t bother to talk about the fact that love might be the hugest word there is in the world and that we would never, across a whole lifetime, work out what it meant.’
The story revolves around Augusta Hope, a twin, who feels she simply does not fit in and dreams of escape to more exotic locations. She is a logophile - a lover of words - and is always asking questions. Her parents find her hard to understand/appreciate, however her more mainstream twin, is her champion.
‘Don’t you want to be extraordinary?’ I said. ‘To have an extraordinary life?’
‘I’m happy to be ordinary,’ said Julia.
Running parallel to Augusta’s story is that of Parfait - a young boy growing up in wartorn Burundi, who likewise dreams of a better life. The story of his journey will break your heart, as indeed, both Parfait and Augusta experience life changing occurrences. The constant thread through both of these tales in Joanna’s writing, it really is exquisite. Words of wisdom literally fly off the page in a highly unique yet beguiling way. The range of topics she fears not to embrace - plight of refugees and postpartum depression, to name but two - is full of courage.
‘None of us can ever imagine being someone else. Isn’t that why being human is lonely? Because however many words there are in a language, they never express the actual thing, the actual feeling, the actual being ourselves?’
As you follow along the journey’s of Augusta and Parfait - from childhood through to adulthood - you will be moved by their struggles as both strive to find a place that is right for them in this world. This is a story that has a little of everything - some laughter, lots of love and simultaneously, great and overwhelming sadness - all surrounded in a cloak of serendipity. You will laugh ... you will cry ... but you certainly will not regret stepping into the world of Augusta Hope.
‘I always had some kind of ache inside me,’ said Parfait.
‘Me too,’ I said. ‘I didn’t know anyone else had that ache.’
‘I always assumed everybody had it,’ he said.
We were talking fast now, our words crashing against each other.
‘I thought I’d been born into the wrong life,’ I said.
This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.