I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book in any way.
Publisher: The Borough Press
Published: June 2019
Augusta Hope has never felt like she fits in.
At six, she’s memorising the dictionary. At seven, she’s correcting her teachers. At eight, she spins the globe and picks her favourite country on the sound of its name: Burundi.
And now that she’s an adult, Augusta has no interest in the goings-on of the small town where she lives with her parents and her beloved twin sister, Julia.
When an unspeakable tragedy upends everything in Augusta’s life, she’s propelled headfirst into the unknown. She’s determined to find where she belongs – but what if her true home, and heart, are half a world away?
It took me a while to get to this book, so that once I did I had basically forgotten the synopsis entirely and went in almost completely blind. I have to say, it was probably for the best, as I probably would have ended up expecting something different!
The Other Half of Augusta Hope is a bittersweet story about love, grief and finding your place in the world. Augusta is an endearing main character, even though she’s not always likeable (but then again, who is?). She is brilliant and curious about the world, loves Burundi despite having never been there, and struggles greatly with life in her small town, despite her deep, deep love for her twin sister Julia. In parallel, the story follows Parfait, a young man from Burundi whose life is very different from Augusta’s. When tragedy strikes both of them differently, each will have to work out where they belong.
I really liked the characterisation in this novel: every character was beautifully drawn, imperfections and all, and felt like truly individual, even the minor characters. The characters’ feelings and emotions were particularly well fleshed out, which is something I always appreciate. The parallels between Augusta’s and Parfait’s lives flowed smoothly for most of the novel, and the transitions were handled very well. There were a few times when the move felt a bit clunky, but overall these were few and far between enough to ignore. The story development was engaging, though I won’t go into too much more detail to avoid potential spoilers. I will say though: that ending was everything!
I had some issues with the pacing in this book though: at times it felt like it was really dragging along and not much was happening either in terms of plot or character development. The parts where things got moving made up for this, but it was still tough to wade through those parts. There was also a heavy reliance on miscommunication/lack of communication as a plot device, which is something I personally dislike, so my enjoyment of this novel was affected by how annoyed I was getting at the characters for not talking to each other. This is purely down to personal preference though!
Overall, this book was fairly engaging to read and definitely had some memorable characters. I’ll be looking out for more books by this author!
This book contains mentions of suicide, child death, grief, addiction, racism.