Culture Street

Books

What A Way To Go by Julia Forster

On February 10, 2016

By Sophia Whitfield

Narrated by 12-year-old Harper Richardson, Forster’s novel is a tribute to the 80s. Set to the backdrop of big hair and pop music, What A Way To Go is the humorous tale of one girl battling the odds that seem stacked against her.

The year is 1988 and Harper Richardson's parents are divorced. Her mum got custody of her, the Mini, and five hundred tins of baked beans. Her dad got a cottage in a Midlands backwater village and default membership of the Lone Rangers single parents' club.

Keen to mend her parents’ broken hearts, Harper exhaustively searches for a new man to ease her mum’s loneliness. Her dad is a more difficult case. He just needs to move on.

While her parents’ struggle, Harper is growing up without anyone paying much attention. Her desired pets are questionable (two gerbils), and her dress sense worrying (even for the 80s). Instead of a pillow she rests her head on her beloved Chambers dictionary. It manages to divulge the information her parents are incapable of sharing.

At times the book reads like a film narrative. At the back of the book there is a list of cast members. Each character adds support to Harper’s plight; her best friend Cassie, her go to girl, the babysitter Derek, who wants to be a hairdresser, and the possible boyfriend Craig.

There is no doubt that this book is set in the 80s. The mere mention of ‘leg warmers’ and Bananarama’s Nathan Jones will send you right back to the good old days when having a Smash Hits magazine peering from your school bag made you extra cool.

What A Way To Go is an entertaining read that explores Harper’s journey through the pre-teen abyss. If you grew up in the 80s it will bring back some memories.

Buy the book here.

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