Spoonful of hope?
'The Apple Tart of Hope' by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald is an uplifting book for young adults about the power of kindness to change the world. The story follows the friendship of two young adults, Oscar and Meg who live next door to each other and chat each night out of their bedroom windows. Oscar has a skill of knowing when people are sad and makes homemade apple tarts for them to cheer them up. On one occasion him and Meg deliver an apple tart to Barney, a man who was about to jump to his death in the sea and bring him back (quite literally) from the edge.
Meg’s family has to move to New Zealand for 6 months, so the house is rented out to another family who have a daughter, Paloma who is in the same year as Oscar and Meg. Oscar and Paloma become friends and carry on the tradition of talking between their windows. However, things to start to go wrong for Oscar pretty much as soon as Paloma arrives in his life e.g his friends turn against him, he is ridiculed for his skill of making apple tarts, Meg stops writing to him over a misunderstanding Paloma caused and he learns his part in his brother, Stevie's accident.
Unsuprisingly, Oscar feels like everything is becoming too much and runs away to the sea to try and escape the pain of his life. He is saved by Barney, the man who he had saved previously and stays away from home for a while, whilst his friends and family have a Mass for him at church in memorial of his life. Eventually, after a few chance meetings, and the gumption of his brother Stevie and Meg, the misunderstadings of the book get sorted out.
I liked the fact this book focused on hope and how one persons actions can make a huge difference in someone elses life. However, perhaps, because I am too old to be a young adult, I felt sometimes the plot devices and writing were a bit clumsy. There were moments of sincerity and parts which you absolutely could believe had been said and were true, but the characters of Paloma and Meg seemed undeveloped and black and white, when in reality people are a lot more complicated. Also, the way that the Police seemed to give up on the fact Oscar, a young teenage boy, was missing so quickly seemed out of touch with reality to me, as was the the way his family organised a religious mass when Oscar’s body had not been found and there was no proof he was actually dead. It was all a little too naïve for my liking.
Overall, the book is an uplifting, quick read that is light and fluffy. If you are looking for escapism, then this book would fit that bill nicely, but to me MORE could have been made of the topic of ‘little acts of kindness’, and the basic character development left me in no doubt I was reading a story, rather than being engrossed in Meg and Oscar’s world.