Wednesday, April 11, 2018

How to be Human by Paula Cocozza (Review)

Adult Fiction, Contemporary
Publication Date:May 9, 2017
Pages:288 (Hardcover)
Published By:  Metropolitan Books
Website:Paula Cocozza

How To Be Human on Goodreads
My review copy:
Received from the publisher in exchange for my honest review

Where to get:


From Guardian writer Paula Cocozza, a debut novel of the breakdown of a marriage, suburban claustrophobia, and a woman's unseemly passion for a fox

One summer’s night, Mary comes home from a midnight ramble to find a baby lying on her back door step. Has Mary stolen the baby from next door? Has the baby’s mother, Mary's neighbor, left her there in her acute state of post-natal depression? Or was the baby brought to Mary as a gift by the fox who is increasingly coming to dominate her life?

So opens How to Be Human, a novel set in a London suburb beset by urban foxes. On leave from work, unsettled by the proximity of her ex, and struggling with her hostile neighbors, Mary has become increasingly captivated by a magnificent fox who is always in her garden. First she sees him wink at her, then he brings her presents, and finally she invites him into her house. As the boundaries between the domestic and the wild blur, and the neighbors set out to exterminate the fox, it is unclear if Mary will save the fox, or the fox save Mary.

     This was such a strange, oddly mesmerizing read, I'm honestly not even sure how to describe it.
How to Be Human is about moving on after a certain chapter in your life comes to an end and learning how to be your own person. It's about finding new purpose and opening your heart to new, unexpected things and experiences. It's about life in general, and the many curveballs it sometimes throws at us. And while these topics have been explored over and over again in fiction, How To Be Human is written in a way that feels completely unique and fresh. 

     There were passages in this book that resonated deeply with me. I was taken aback by how much I was relating to the main character and everything she was going through, as well as her insightful thoughts on relationships, suburban living, motherhood and friendships. 

     The writing style was very pleasant, for the lack of a different word. It flowed gently and with amazing fluidity. The short passages written from the fox point of view were odd and almost poetic in both the form and the message. (and if you're wondering, there were only a few of them and they were brief enough not to disrupt the story flow). 

     I don't know how I feel about the ending. It was definitely a perfect ending for this particular story, but I wanted more answers, more closure. It was all there for the taking, but it wasn't spelled out clearly, and it left me wondering about certain things. Not a bad thing at all, just not something I'm used to. 

     I'm not sure what more I can say about this book, it's definitely one that is hard to review. I picked it up because the synopsis sounded intriguing and the suburban English setting (coexisting closely with the beautiful wildlife) pulled me in. I found this book completely enthralling, fascinating and almost magical. I can't put my finger on what specifically made this book work for me, but it was a very enriching reading experience for me and I'll definitely be following Paula Cocozza's carrier closely.

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