Thursday, June 12, 2014

BLOG TOUR: Closed Doors by Lisa O'Donnell

Title: Closed Doors
Author: Lisa O'Donnell
Genre: Adult Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release Date: May 20/2014
Acquired:  Print copy provided by publisher
Goodreads: ADD

'There are no strangers in Rothesay, Michael. Everyone knows who you are and always will. It's a blessing but it's also a curse.' Eleven-year-old Michael Murray is the best at two things: keepy-uppies and keeping secrets. His family think he's too young to hear grown-up stuff, but he listens at doors; it's the only way to find out anything. And Michael's heard a secret, one that might explain the bruises on his mother's face. When the whispers at home and on the street become too loud to ignore, Michael begins to wonder if there is an even bigger secret he doesn't know about.

Scared of what might happen if anyone finds out, and desperate for life to return to normal, Michael sets out to piece together the truth. But he also has to prepare for the upcoming talent show, keep an eye out for Dirty Alice, his arch-nemesis from down the street, and avoid eating Granny's watery stew. Closed Doors is the startling new novel from the acclaimed author of The Death of Bees. It is a vivid evocation of the fears and freedoms of childhood in the 1980s and a powerful tale of love, the loss of innocence and the importance of family in difficult times.


It has been proven, time and again, what a powerful literary move it is to describe tragedy through a child's perspective. This is the second book in which Lisa O'Donnell has used the innocent, and untainted honesty, of a child's point of view to tell her story. She was, once again, hugely successful with Closed Doors, but I wasn't as blown away this time around. Michael was an entertaining narrator, but there was much to be desired.

Michael's mother has suffered at the hands of a heartless monster, one who's unseen presence has consumed all sense of normalcy in his family. His father feels helpless; his grandmother, the self-appointed mediator. Michael begins his narrative as an 11-year-old spy, one who's constantly listening at doors, and eavesdropping from the top of the stairs. He catches bits of information, and attempts to unravel the riddles himself. Soon enough, he's completely involved in his family's turmoil, and no longer has to sneak around. He describes events with a voice that is unfiltered in it's truths, all while growing up a little faster than his parents would have otherwise liked.

There were moments that I believed Michael to be his indicated age, other times, he dissolved into a much younger boy of maybe 6, or 7-years-old. The subject matter in Closed Doors was one that slammed so fiercely into your heart, that sometimes it was hard to not crave the perspective of someone more mature, or even the thoughts of the victim herself: Michael's mother. Though, for the most part, the story was told with intense emotion, and it is nearly impossible to not feel for Michael and his family; for the pain that was so clearly radiating from every heated exchange, or swollen silence. It was an interesting dynamic of both a family in turmoil, and a 11-year-old boy constantly interested in what 11-year-old boys are typically entranced by: girls, fights, toys, candy, and friendships. I loved Michael's interactions with the hated "Dirty Alice," it was definitely the comic relief in the novel, and completely in tune with the dialogue I loved so much from O'Donnell's The Death of Bees.

I can't say that I was completely satisfied with the conclusion of Closed Doors-I selfishly wanted some more twists, and some more heart-wrenching revelations. I felt like the build-up was written in a way that teased of something more, and then just fell flat. However, this book was definitely another win for the author, and a true testament of her ability to tackle difficult subjects in an unusual, and refreshingly different, way. I will be reading any, and everything, Lisa O'Donnell publishes. 

Recommended for fans of: Room by Emma Donoghue, The Round House by Louise Erdich, Contemporary, Controversial Issues.


Writer of The Death of Bees and Closed Doors out July 2013 and winner of The Commonwealth Book Prize 2013.

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Thank-you to Trish from TLC Book Tours for hosting this tour, and to Harper Collins for sending me a print ARC to review!

CLICK HERE to follow the rest of the tour

1 comment:

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