Toffee by Sarah Crossan

Review by Rebecca Ford, JCSP Librarian, Collinstown Park Community College.

Toffee is Sarah Crossan’s most recent Young Adult novel, and like her others, it is a novel written in verse. The novel opens with “Toffee” (real name Allison), on the run from her abusive father. She finds secret shelter in the home of Marla, who has dementia.  At the beginning, Marla and Allison are grasping to remember who they really are. Marla because of her dementia, and Allison because she has buried so much of her identity and memories in order to survive. Gradually they begin to recover parts of themselves, and in their recovery, they grow closer and help each other to find a little happiness and comfort.

Like Sarah Crossan’s other novels, this is very readable and the pages turn quickly, the story flows. However, it represents domestic violence and emotional abuse very accurately, and so can be very moving, and may even upset some readers who have encountered this in their own lives. It could be a difficult choice to read in a class group, I would recommend it for individual reading, or maybe even in a small book club. Even though the subject matter can be distressing, it is dealt with very responsibly, and it would not put me off recommending this book in the slightest. In fact, it is a very good gateway to understanding the confusion and dissonance that a survivor of domestic abuse can succumb to.

I would recommend this book to anyone who has enjoyed the Girl Missing trilogy by Sophie Mckenzie, and another author that readers might enjoy is Karen M McManus with her One Of Us is Lying series.

Readers might also like to try Elizabeth is Missing, by Emma Healey, which is an excellent novel written from the point of view of an elderly lady with dementia, who is gradually piecing together a mystery from her past, in rare moments of clarity.

Young Adult Fiction

Age 15+