Debut novels come and go, every writer has one inside of them. Some writers come later in life, some come after years of writing at university. Sometimes they come from the spirit of youth. Mahsuda Snaith is one of those youthful writers, who wrote a novel first draft at the age of 16 went to university and returned to it finding amongst the cringeful first draft errors only experience would notice, a book that was full of well-rounded characters.
The Things We Thought We Knew, tells the story of Ravine, a young British Bangladeshi woman who lies in her bed plagued by chronic pain syndrome following the disappearance of her friend Marianne. They were best friends yet Ravine is trapped to her bed. The novel follows the belligerent mother, Amma, who will not take a no for an answer from her daughter, prompting her to get out of bed and vote knowing she is capable of progress.
"Council estate life has been represented in literature before, but always in a very dark, gritty way. That just wasn’t my experience of growing up on a council estate: it wasn’t all doom and violence and drugs, some of the stuff I came across was quite comic, so I wanted to reflect that.”
Ravine is drawn as a rebellious teen who wants to remain in her fixed state and not alter her surroundings. That is what the book is about, change and how it changes people around it. Starting at Ravine's 18th birthday party and the impending election she can vote at, Amma makes a beeline to change her domestic surroundings and move Ravine from her funk.
Written with delicate nuance with clever observations of familial relationships and interpersonal behaviour, the book is also about recall and memory - it easily could have been placed in the same genre of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, yet this is set in a Leicester council estate which gives the book greater character and realism than Green's wonderlust piece.
Snaith's debut novel is one that will contain something for everyone and wish more books were written such as it.
The Things We Thought We Knew is released from Penguin Random House on 15th June in Hardback/eBook