The Other Hand by Chris Cleave

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toh_paperbackOne of the joys of being in a book club is that you get to read books that you normally wouldn’t pick up or those that have slipped by you while your life was going on elsewhere. The Other Hand falls into the latter category for me and for such a great topical read about the status of refugees, I was amazed to find out that it was published in 2008 and I had never heard of it.

Start mentioning it to my bookish friends though and the response was the same, “Oh wow, that book. I can’t tell you what happens but talk to me when you are done.”

The publisher Sceptre seemed to have the same idea.  While I normally rely on the back blurb to decide if I will read a book or not, this one threw me a bit. The blurb simply read, “We don’t want to tell you what happens in this book. It is a truly special story and we don’t want to spoil it.”

It is the story of two women who are so different in every way – one is a Nigerian refugee on the run from the law and the other, a middle-class, career-orientated English woman – but who are brought together in the most harrowing of circumstances on an African beach.

What ensues would spoil the story so let’s just say, it is not sand and surf. Two year later their paths cross again and this is where the story starts to unfold.

Little Bee and Sarah share the narration chapter by chapter and while both suffer horrendous loss, it is the survival of the human spirit that is the winner.

It is hard to write too much about the plot of this book without giving anything away but if you are looking for another take on the plight of refugees then this is well worth a read.

The Other Hand (Sceptre, 2008, ISBN: 9870340920244, 378 pages.)

My rating: ★★★★

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