What a unique book!
It’s difficult to define exactly what makes this book so special – it’s like the difficulty in defining what exactly “umami” is, which is something not only discussed in the book but plays a role in the story as well.
It’s a novel which mainly takes place in Mexico City. It follows the intertwined lives of the different people who live in “Belldrop Mews” (I had to look up the term “mews”!). It’s written from the point of view of several characters, some of whom are children. Their “voices” are so real, that I now miss them a bit – as if they were people I had met.
While all the neighbors are dealing with grief, this is not a “depressing” book. There are very sad moments along with ones of wonder and amusement.
More importantly, I found the combination of “voices” relating the same events, particularly the children’s voices, to be a powerful storytelling method in this context. The children questioned, wondered at, or even directly challenged the adults’ way of handling grief, and highlighted the many layers and aspects of how life moves forward after a tragedy.
And yes, there is hope, and new beginnings in this book. Slow changes for the better that start small but mean a lot (no fairy godmothers here…).
I recommend that you don’t read too much about the book in advance – it’s best to understand things as they are presented.