Religion, broken relationships and untimely death provide the emotional speed bumps as Sissy careers seemingly out of control along the rocky road from innocent childhood to nascent maturity. Sitting in the passenger seat is Jude the tragically distant mother unable to put the brakes on her daughter’s descent into darkness, as she in turn struggles to accept the death of her husband.
Appearing at times to levitate above this tableau of despair is the occasionally ethereal Anne; the matriarch of the family whose unwavering belief in the divine power of the Lord conceals an unmentionable secret which if known would shatter the bedrock of her family values.
By using characters and circumstances with inter-generational touch-points Lynch empowers the reader to become immersed in Sissy’s dissolute and desparate free-fall into the abyss of nothingness and it is only her reluctant re-awakening, stimulated by the deep felt need to confront her father’s death, that enables her to claw her way out of this homeless, drug fuelled vacuum which has left her bereft of values and the ability to feel.
Lynch’s writing is empathetic and Sissy’s friendships with Cam and Rik providing metaphorical beacons of light, which although impacted by her grief offer glimpses of another life untainted by the stranglehold of death. Physical relocation to London from the tortured reality of Glasgow gives Sissy breathing space from family expectations but the bright lights quickly dim as the spotlight refocuses on the normality of adulthood, of struggling to find work, to make ends meet, and the casualness of relationships and their lack of meaning and depth.
Ultimately the author takes our emotions full circle as death turns into life and the appreciation of its vitality develops a new energy as Sissy and Jude realise that a life remembered is as valuable as a life given.