Small Spaces, by Sarah Epstein


We don’t pick and choose what to be afraid of. Our fears pick us.

When she was eight Tash Carmody witnessed her secret¬†friend Sparrow abduct a child, Mallory Fisher. But nobody believed Tash, because no one else had ever met Sparrow and, over the years since, Tash has come to accept that Sparrow wasn’t real and that some trauma¬† caused her to create her version of events. Mallory has been mute since the week that she went missing, and, after years of counselling and being sheltered by her increasingly frustrated mother, Tash is determined to put events behind her. But Mallory and her family are back in town and old memories are resurfacing. Tash becomes increasingly isolated from her few friends as she starts to wonder if Sparrow really does exist – or whether she herself is the dangerous one.

Small Spaces is a gripping psychological thriller for young adult readers. The mystery of what happened to Tash, and Tash’s involvement, will keep readers guessing. Tash’s first person narration is interspersed with scripts of recordings of her counselling sessions over the intervening years, allowing readers insight into Tash’s version of events at the time, and what has happened in the intervening years.

Creepy, gripping and unputdownable.

Small Spaces, by Sarah Epstein
Walker Books, 2018
ISBN 9781921977381

The Exit, by Helen Fitzgerald

Mum had been pushing me to try for the only job that required fewer skills than crew member at McDonald’s: care assistant at a place called Dear Green Care Home. She knew someone who knew someone, she said, and gave me a number to call. All I had to be was human, ready to start immediately, and in Clydebank for an interview at 3.30.

Catherine is 23, and only gets a job to get her mother off her case – and so that she can save for a trip to Costa Rica. With debts mounting and another of her mother’s family meetings looming, Catherine figures working a local aged care facility can’t be too bad. But something strange is going on at Dear Green. One of the residents, eighty-two year old Rose, is convinced that terrible things happen in Room 7, and that she is in danger. The problem is, Rose has dementia, and keeps regressing to a terrible event when she was ten years old, so perhaps her worries for the present are unreliable. As Catherine gets to know and care for Rose, she must figure out what is really going on.

Apart from her job, Catherine has other issues to sort through. Is her biggest concern really getting a good selfie for Facebook, and enough likes on her posts? What about her mother’s strange behaviour and her numerous brief relationships?

The Exit is a stunning psychological thriller which deals with issues of family, ageing, dementia, and more as it moves through shocking twists and turns towards a dramatic conclusion. Told from the dual points of view of Catherine and Rose, the story gives insight into the mind of a seemingly self-absorbed young person and an older person who is losing her memory but who has previously been independent and successful, a pair who are very different but who the reader is able to get to know, and like, well.

The Exit is a compelling read.

The Exit, by Helen Fitzgerald
Faber & Faber,2015
ISBN 9780571323715

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