Book Review - Relatively Strange

Relatively Strange - Marilyn Messik

After reading the first few words of this story, I knew I was going to love it.

“I was five when I discovered I could fly, sixteen when I killed a man. Both events were unsettling in their own way.”

Relatively Strange is a fascinating story about growing up when you’re somewhat different to most of those around you. Enriched with some wonderfully quirky characters, this story made me think of Mary Poppins as a child and The Worst Witch.

I loved the style of writing and the way the descriptions completely sucked me into the story. I loved the humour that had me repeatedly giggling away to myself. That didn’t make me look strange at all.

“One way and another I didn’t know whether I was Arthur, Martha or an iced tea cake.”

I felt the story became more serious as it progressed, which I also loved. Having studied psychology at A’ Level and university, I found parts of the story fascinating, and it made me think about the extremes some psychologists went to for their research.

Although there is action and excitement in the story, for me personally I think the strength of this book is the focus on human nature. The differences between individuals. That it is okay to be different. The value of knowing the difference between right and wrong. Choosing to do good with the personal strengths we each have. I think every reader could benefit from being reminded of the power and influence we each hold as individuals, and the importance of making the right choices.

“We tried,” she said softly, “Never to forget that for every man or woman who sinks to untold levels of wickedness, depravity and sheer inhumanity there are others who rise equally in the opposite direction.”

“To harm is so easy, to heal, a different thing altogether.”

I highly recommend this to fans of both adult and young adult fiction, those who like their books to be a little unusual, and those who are driven by great characters.

I won a signed copy of this book via THE Book Club on Facebook over a year ago, and I’m ashamed to say it has taken me this long to read it. I’m sure the main reason was the whole ‘Oh my goodness, it’s a physically book, and having had a Kindle for three years, I’ve forgotten how to change pages or use a real life bookmark’. Thankfully I managed to face this daunting challenge head on and enjoy this great book. I’m really looking forward to reading the second book, Even Stranger, and I’m certain I won’t be waiting a year to read that one.

Before I go, while on the subject of things being strange, a reference to ‘red herrings’ in this book made me think of how books never actually explained what a red herring was. I had never heard the word ‘herring’ before, so for some reason, as a young girl, if I ever read it in a book, I pictured quite a large bird with bright red feathers (and still do, but shhh, other people don’t need to know that do they, so let’s keep that between us).