“That was his second lie, at least that I knew of. Nobody knows what goes on in heaven, so how could he know my momma was there? I was sure she wasn’t in heaven. I was sure she was in Memphis, Tennessee, probably at That Amazing Pizza Place still looking for me, crying into her Coke Zero, because she missed me so much. I was going to find her, that much I knew.”
Author: Karen B. Golightly Published: 2018 Pages: 128
One of my favourite books of all time is Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I think one of the reasons I love it so much is just the innocence of the protagonist, Oskar. It makes the narrative so raw and endearing and ultimately makes that novel more heartbreaking than it ever would have been with an adult narrator. There Are Things I Know does exactly the same thing. The narrator Pepper is an eight year old boy who struggles with words, but finds it easier to turn them into numbers in order to remember them. He is good at remembering numbers. He can remember the number his momma always wrote on his arm when they went out incase he got lost. One day, when a man called Uncle Dan takes Pepper from That Amazing Pizza Place and tells Pepper his momma has died, Pepper knows he must never forget the number written on his arm, because he knows that Uncle Dan is lying, and that he must find his momma.
I think the reason this book will be so popular is it is just so endearing; Pepper is so likeable and throughout the whole novel I just wanted the best for him, determined for him to succeed. If anything, the book could have been longer. Golightly writes the plot in a concise manner and ties off all the loose ends, but I just wanted more of Pepper, to experience more of what it was like to be in his head. It was also really lovely to see another novel with an autistic protagonist, and helps raise awareness of autism for all who read it.
Moving on to the end of the book, the last 30 pages were so tense but made for an incredible end. I really didn’t know where the author was going to take it, but what she chose to do was perfect for the novel and I felt very satisfied reading the last few pages. Golightly successfully communicated that the world is a scary and unfortunately insidious place, but that, even when it seems so, all is not lost.
There was a potential for a plot hole depending on how big the search for Pepper was in Tennessee, seeing as it is right next to Arkansas, where Uncle Dan was living. She didn’t touch on many details to do with the search for Pepper, so I don’t know how big it was, but I did think that there might have been news of it on the tv, or radio? But really, that was a minor point that didn’t affect my enjoyment of the novel at all.
This novel was written as a good reminder of the power of innocence in an all too ignorant world. Pepper really is an unforgettable protagonist, and the books I read from now will have a hard time living up to the standard of There Are Things I Know.
Thank you to Fairlight Books, for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.