Sarah Moore Fitzgerald, The Apple Tart of Hope, Orion/Hachette, 14 April 2015, 200pp., $24.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781444011159
This British novel is written from dual perspective: we begin with Meg describing her best friend Oscar’s funeral, and then we move to Oscar’s point of view later as we learn fairly early in the novel that he is in fact missing, presumed dead. Meg and Oscar had been neighbours and best of friends, but after Meg moves temporarily to New Zealand due to her father’s secondment, a misunderstanding leaves Meg and Oscar at odds and no longer emailing. In that time, Oscar becomes close to the new girl, Paloma, who has rented Meg’s house: she manipulates the vulnerable Oscar and things unravel socially for him from there until he decides to attempt suicide.
Elements of this novel are quirky (Oscar makes superb apple tarts as a hobby), and there is an attempt to use a whimsical tone to lighten the serious themes of bullying, depression and suicide. I don’t know if this tone works in this particular novel and at times I thought the tone a bit too glib for the concepts Fitzgerald was exploring but Oscar is a sweet character, and the writing style is solid. This is targeted at the older adolescent, most probably a fifteen or sixteen year old.
reviewed bu Angie Holst