Harrison, Melissa. Clay.New York: Bloomsbury, 2013.

Clay is centered around the lives of four different people only the story starts out like a lukewarm party with lots of dull people. The characters were listless and unmemorable. I felt like a party goer who was more interested in the decor of the party than the people attending it.By page 100 I still hadn’t connected with anyone nor could I tell anyone what it was really about. At the center of the story is TC, a nine-turning-ten year old lonely boy. On the surface he is looking for a companion, someone to share his “me against the world” attitude. Deep down he is searching for his father, always fantasizing about ways to get him to come home after divorcing his mom. Other characters include Jamal, TC’s mother’s boyfriend; Jozef, the Polish immigrant working two jobs; Denny, Jozef’s boss at the furniture shop and Musa, Jozef’s boss at the takeaway; Sophia, the elderly widow across the park; her daughter Linda; granddaughter Daisy, son Michael, and son-in-law Steven. All these characters circle around each other without real rhyme or reason other than proximity. For example, TC and Jozef forge a misfit friendship and Daisy and grandmother Sophie write misunderstood letters to one another.
The best part of Harrison’s writing is her descriptive passages about nature. She captures birds, trees, flowers beautifully. Wildlife comes alive and breathes life into the rest of the story. Because the plot lacked a hook I found I could put Clay down for days at a time and not miss the people I had met. I wasn’t breathlessly interested in seeing what happened next. My curiosity was mild, bordering on disinterested.

Reason read: This was received and reviewed as part of LibraryThing’s Early Review program.

Author Fact: Clay is Melissa Harrison’s first novel.

Book Trivia: Clay will be published in 2013.

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