Sasha Knight

The more entrenched I become in middle-age, the more I realise just how much my childhood has shaped the adult I am today.  From the obvious connections that anyone could spot (you wouldn’t be surprised to hear that I grew up surrounded by book lovers and that in our house emotional comfort was always accompanied by chocolate) to those buried somewhat deeper beneath the surface (the uncertainty of family illness triggering anxiety from an early age), all of my formative experiences are entwined within my very being.  As a result I find myself drawn more and more frequently to those coming-of-age novels that explore just how pivotal that journey into maturity can be, seeking learning for myself as much as anything else.  I therefore jumped at the chance to review Sasha Knight by Sean Godfrey and I have to say it exceeded all of my expectations.

Ironically, given the novel’s name, this is really the story of Matthew, who we meet as a young boy growing up in Jamaica.  When new lodgers move into the house he shares with his mother and brother, Sasha steamrolls into his pre-adolescent world, larger than life and full of fascination and fun.  Soon they are best friends, inseparable outside of school and embroiled in all the kinds of high jinks you would expect of children so young and naive.  Then one day Sasha disappears and Matthew’s life changes forever.  He may physically grow into an adult as we follow his path through school and then on to America, but emotionally he remains trapped in the moment Sasha left him.  He cannot move on without accepting what really happened to his friend.

One of the things I love best about this book (and there were so many) is the way it defies genre – yes it certainly fits into the bildungsroman category but it also interweaves elements of magic realism and mystery to create an addictive and unpredictable narrative.  Matthew becomes a more unreliable narrator as the story progresses and I found myself searching for clues to try and solve Sasha’s disappearance myself, reading between the lines to find my own meaning.  The author explores some really complex themes such as race, class and gender expectations with great skill, all of which play a pivotal role in driving the story forward. But ultimately this is a book about loss and the trauma it brings those who experience it: with an absent yet idolised father, Matthew was clearly vulnerable to anyone filling the empty space in his heart and once Sasha has done this, he cannot let go. All of us carry emotional scarring and all of us have struggled to move forward following the loss of someone we care about.  This story will undoubtedly resonate with everyone.

This is one of those brilliantly written books that you can’t help feeling would hit the bestseller’s list if only the author was already really famous and I hope it gains the traction needed for greater media attention.  I highly recommend buying a copy – Matthew and Sasha will certainly be staying with me for some time whilst I reflect on my own emotional parallels.  Godfrey is clearly one to watch – you heard it here first!

Sasha Knight will be published on 23rd of June 2022 and can be pre-ordered here:

Author: Bookaholicbex

Book-nerd with a passion for all things literary. If only real life would stop getting in the way of reading...

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