A small but animated group discussed the book Hand Me Down World by Lloyd Jones on Saturday 19 March 2011. There was a consensus not often seen in our bookclub as we all really enjoyed the book.
The book is beautifully written and crafted. We thought the cover was particularly poignant and reflective of the main character. Central to the book is the concept of a mother's determination and struggle to do anything possible to have contact with,to care for and protect her child. Ines, (interestingly we do not know her true name) the main character, is driven by an overwhelming maternal instinct to do extraordinary things.
The book is told in two parts. The first being the voices of the people Ines meets along her journey from Africa to Berlin in search of her son. These people tell a story of enormous empathy and kindness on the whole towards her with some notable exceptions. By the time we hear Ines' story we have formed some idea of her which is dispelled when we hear the same events as told by her. Our group felt the truth lay somewhere between.
The book touched on the refugee issue, surrogacy, the incredible cruelty inflicted on Ines esp by Jermayne, who is the father of her child and her determination to do anything (prostitute herself, have "hotel sex", steal from her employer) to ensure she can have some contact with her son, Daniel.
For all the travails Ines endures the ending is uplifting and hopeful. All in all a great read and thoroughly recommended by the Saturday morning bookclub.
Written by Ann