A Million Things is a heart-wrenching story told from the perspective of ten year old Rae who forms an unlikely friendship with her elderly neighbour Lettie. Rae’s always taken on more responsibility at home than most children her age, but with her mum suddenly gone she’s got to keep everything together on her own. Rae must care for herself and her dog Splinter, buy groceries, cook meals, clean the house and pay bills all while trying to avoid drawing the attention of nosy neighbours, school administrators or officials from the housing council. Her one source of comfort is taking long walks with Splinter through picturesque neighbourhoods, where she can envision a different kind of life.
Lettie has been consumed by grief for decades; her life and home have gotten so out of control that she’s reported to the housing council as a danger to the health and safety of the neighbourhood. When Lettie has an accident in her home one evening Rae comes to her aid, and so, after years of living side-by-side with minimal interaction, the pair unexpectedly become each other’s support system.
Both humourous and tragic, A Million Things is a riveting novel that I read all in one sitting. Emily Spurr’s prose was very well written and the characters exuded such raw emotion. I also loved the delightfully snarky banter between Rae and Lettie, (“kiddo”/”goat-o” had me in stitches). I liked how each chapter was a day in Rae’s life after her mum leaves – as the days continued to pass you could feel the increasing amount of strain on Rae as she tries to keep it all together, until it all just gets too much for her. Watching the count of the days increase also really highlighted how traumatic it would be for a young child to be on their own for such a long time.
Overall, it was a great debut novel and I look forward to reading more from Emily Spurr in the future.
Thank you to NetGalley and Text Publishing for providing an eARC of this book for review.