unbecoming // jenny downham

25930105


published: 2015 UK / 2016 USA
pages375
isbn9780545907170
read from8/4 to 8/16/2016
rating1) didn't care for it 2) liked it 3) LOVED IT


SYNOPSIS (goodreads)

Katie is seventeen and in love with someone whose identity she’s afraid to reveal.

Caroline, Katie’s mother, is uptight, worn out, and about to find the past catching up with her.

Mary, Katie’s grandmother, suffers from Alzheimer’s and suddenly appears after years of mysterious absence.

As Katie cares for an elderly woman who brings daily chaos to her life, she finds herself drawn to the grandmother she never knew she had. Rules get broken as allegiances shift. Is Mary contagious? Is “badness” genetic?

In confronting the past, Katie is forced to seize the present. As Mary slowly unravels and family secrets are revealed, Katie learns to live and finally dares to love.

Unbecoming is a vivid and exhilarating celebration of life and learning to honor your own story, infused with jenny Downham’s signature warmth, humor, and wisdom.

SPOILERS

Mary comes back in to Caroline's life because her partner Jack passes away. 
but being the loving man that he was, and because Mary has dementia, he had all of her daughters, Caroline, information listed on a medical bracelet that she'd wear. so that's how they connect. 
but of course they don't have a perfect mother daughter relationship. 

lets break it down by character. 

MARY
she was so to speak, her father's favorite. she was the wild of the 2, in love with life and all of the boys. she gets knocked up by  a married man and out of fear of not having the mother gene, she lets her sister Pat, take custody of her daughter. 
so she leaves to London to come back 9 years later to take Caroline back with her. 
to return her again, to show up later. but of course her dementia prevents her from knowing everything at the correct moment. 

CAROLINE
she grew up thinking Pat was her mother and Lionel was her biological father until the day that Mary showed up to take her for ice cream. 
she married her now soon to be ex husband because he was a numbers man and seemed like a safe bet.
as much as she was Mary's daughter she fought really hard to be just like Pat; hella boring. 
but as much as she fought it, she was still "just like her mother." 
after giving birth to Chris, it all went downhill. Steve (her ex-husband) blamed her for having a child with needs and she could sense him pulling away. out of nowhere she has an, idk what you'd call it, but she basically takes off to the airport and takes off to I can't remember where. she feels guilty about that but there's also the fact that she had an affair while she was away somewhere in Spain that's eating her up. it hurts her to see that she's still somewhat like her mother. 

PAT (not one of the girls on the cover) 
Mary's sister, Caroline's "mother" was the house care taker as soon as their mother passed away and you can tell that's a huge reason why she resents Mary. 
so when she gives birth to Caroline and their father chooses not to talk to her you can tell it makes her kind of happy. 

she tells Mary she should marry Lionel and live with him and be a house wife but Mary is not about that so she tells her she should do that since that's what she's all about and low and behold, she does. 

Mary can't stand being there so they come up on an agreement that Pat will raise Caroline as her daughter and she'll be known as the "aunt."

you might be wondering why it took Mary 9 years to get to Caroline out of nowhere but in fact, she had been trying to get in touch with them since the very beginning. 
Mary would write letters, send things, ask for pictures, meetings and phone calls but Pat restricted it all to holidays and birthdays. she went back on their agreement. 
AND THEN !!!!!!!! the bitch (sorry but it was a shitty move) had the guts to up and move the family and not give her an address. it wasn't until Mary hired a private detective that she was able to find where she was at. 
and even then when she didn't get close, she was still watching from a coffee shop. every.single.day.

anyways, long story short, Pat kept the truth from Caroline and Caroline from Mary. and then she made everyone feel like shit when they tried to live their life. 
and then she went and committed suicide by drowning herself in the ocean. 
and of course Caroline knows. so you know, she has to live with that burden.

I can honestly say that I could feel how she felt like she was dealt with the shit end of the stick but gah! I disliked her so much. I wanted to fioqwenrvaksjdfh (yea you tried to read that right) her when I was reading all the dumb shit she did.  

KATIE
she's all for keeping Mary and even being her "guardian" as long as they get to keep her at home (Caroline was super anti having her mother at home.) 

her deal is that she kissed her best friend Esme and in return Esme ran and told everyone in school. so there went her only friend. 
then, there's another girl, Simona, who is known to be a lesbian who everyone talks bad about. and because she sees what they do and say to her, she's afraid to be herself. 
so she denies it, dates Jamie for a bit, only to finally tell her mother through a book (a book that she's been using to keep all of Mary's memories alive and connected) and comes clean to Jamie. 
she has this thing with Simona where she asks her about the whole "how are you so sure about this lesbianism thing" and for a moment it seemed like something was going to happen but then of course Katie backs out. 
so after she comes clean, she tries to fix it with her and eventually she does.

honestly, I was trying to finish the last few pages that I think I read that they dated for a bit but with Simona being a year older she leaves for Uni and they eventually just casually date but is never a serious thing. at least i dont think, from what i caught on to.

I didn't hate the lesbian plot line, I just 100% think the book could have gone without all that extra side shit. but in the name of learning to become who you are meant to be, I guess I understand. 


as always, the spoilers are here but there is still a lot of things I left out. 
mostly how things kind of connect but you can basically connect the dots. 


MY RAMBLINGS
(just thoughts on the book itself)

I had to do the ramblings before I started the spoiler because exhausted face emoji!

first off, let me start with the rating. I didn't hate the book but I wasn't crazy about it. 
I had trouble finishing it or even getting into it but then it had its moments. so I didn't like it like a ton but I didn't hate it either (see why rating systems suck?) 
I had trouble getting into but I had given up on the last few books that I kind of forced myself to get into it. and then it paid off a bit only to leave me stuck again. to be honest, the reason I finished it was because I just got a new batch of books from the library. 

uhm, hmm. so, I liked the aspect of the book with the secrets and then 3 generations kind of figuring out and patching up the past but I feel like Katie's "secret", although part of who she is, was kind of just like a thrown in there subject (I'm honestly coming off bad with this.) and the whole thing with Esme. 
I would have liked the book a lot more if Esme didn't exist and that whole subject wasn't in there. it's not that I'm against it because I'm not, I just feel like it would of been just fine of a book if she would've stood up to her mom without all that sexuality stuff. 

I also hated that its told in a 3rd person narrative. 
for the most part, it's always Katie talking but one minute she's narrating and then she's speaking as herself. then Mary jumps in and its out of nowhere Katie again and it was just a giant clusterfuck. there were several times I had to go back and re-read because I wasn't even sure what I was reading or in whose voice i was reading it in.   

uhm, other than that, I really loved Mary and Chris. I'm happy Katie stood up for herself and that Caroline (Katie's mom) & Katie eventually piece everything together for Mary's memory sake and Caroline's sake. (Katie's as well)

I suggest you read the spoilers for this one and honestly choose from there if this one's worth a read. 
I also suggest someone write about about all of the brothers because this is the second book I read where I feel the brother could have also been a star and where I'd read a book based just off of him. (ha!)

so yea, if ya pick it up let me know what you think!
...maybe for me, this will be a book that will hit me in the guts later on in life, but as of right now, ehm, it was okay. 

but I will leave you with these quotes....

"Pleasure is spread through the earth in stray gifts to be claimed by whoever shall find."
 - Mary pg 109

"Who will I be when you forget me?"
- Katie pg 287

"....and I realized, for the first time ever, that the truth doesn't exist."
-Katie pg 318
...and then she goes on to talk about how it never exists because people will always have different takes on said story. kind of really hit the spot on that one.

"a baby has over 300 bones, and as she grows, cartilage is replaced, smaller bones join together, join together, and she ends up with only two hundred and six. so many things get lost as daughters grow."
 -Mary pg 335



thanks for reading!

(EDIT: i could've sworn i read mary had dementia but it says that it was Alzheimer's. oops.) 

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