Book #33

Rosewater by Liv Little


Elsie is a sexy, funny, and fiercely independent woman living in South London. But, at just 28, she is also tired. Though she spends her days writing tender poetry in her journal, her nights are spent working long hours for minimum wage at a neighbourhood gay bar.

The difficulty of being estranged from her family, struggle of being continually rejected from jobs, and fear of never making money doing what she loves, is too great. But Elsie is determined to keep the faith, for a little longer at least. Things will surely turn around. They have to.

As she tries to breathe through the panic attacks, sleeping with her hot and spirited co-worker Bea isn't exactly straightforward and offers Elsie just another place to hide.

As Elsie tries to reconnect with her best friend Juliet, her fragile world spirals out of control. Can Elsie steady herself and not fall through the cracks?

This felt to me exactly like opening a window into someone else’s life. I’ve experienced none of the things Elise has, her world is as foreign to me as the moon. We are as opposite as opposite can be, me with my privilege, her with her disadvantages. And yet none of this blocked my empathy, my deep realisation of humanity, and my absolute determination to see her work things out.

There’s a lot to unpack here - Little explores sexuality, community, oppression, generational trauma, the complexities of love and friendship. Hell, she even goes into the impact of Karens. But we’re given these themes in such a slow, true to life way. As one thing happens, just adding to the pile of situations to handle or process, it was clear to me how realistic this was. Life doesn’t hand us something and allow us to deal with it before ploughing us with the next one. We juggle everything, all of the time.

I loved experiencing all of these characters with their deep, sometimes secluded, histories. Everyone has selfish motivations, and seeing them connect, repel, and heal, was wonderful.

Although slow in places, and sometimes feeling plotless, I think this is a wonderful debut and I’m eager to read what comes next.