Eva Jordan’s debut novel 183 Times a Year is the story of beleaguered mum Lizzie and angst-ridden teenage daughter Cassie’s relationship and their chaotic ‘blended’ family.
Thanks to a first person narrative by Lizzie and Cassie alternately, we get both sides of the story. There is never any confusion about who’s talking as the two protagonists have their own distinct tone of voice.
A rich supporting cast of characters speeds the action along and the goodies and baddies are clearly flagged from the outset. Other family members add depth to Lizzie and Cassie’s characters (for instance, Cassie’s empathy for her cancer-suffering Nan rescues her from being a monster), then there are friends, boyfriends and a loathsome ex-husband to contend with; all vividly drawn and believable.
It’s a book of two halves; the first is brimming with laugh-out-loud comedy – mainly due to Cassie’s utterly selfish take on the world, and her frequent malapropisms. In the second half, the book takes on a darker tone, becoming less slapstick and more thought-provoking. You’ll get no plot spoilers from me – but a shocking twist changes the direction of this novel entirely, adding layers and depth.
The complex (and often toxic) mother-daughter relationship theme will resonate with women everywhere and you don’t have to be a parent to get it; if you are child-free, just think back to your own teenage tempest. Expect a roller coaster of emotions that includes tears, laughter, anger and indignation. Above all, this book has shed-loads of heart.