Title: Mary’s the Name
Author: Ross Sayers
Published: January 30th 2017
Publisher: Cranachan Books
Genre: Middle Grade, Scottish Fiction, Contemporary
Length: 314 pages
Source: Paperback from Publisher
Book Blurb (via Goodreads):
An eight-year-old girl and her granpa are on the run…
“When me and Granpa watched James Bond films, he told me not to be scared because people didn’t have guns like that in Scotland. That must’ve been why the robbers used hammers.”
Orphaned Mary lives with her granpa, but after he is mixed up in a robbery at the bookies where he works, they flee to the Isle of Skye. Gradually, Mary realises that her granpa is involved. And the robbers are coming after him–and their money.
Mary’s quirky outlook on life, loss, and her love of all things Elvis, will capture your heart. Full of witty Scots banter, Mary’s the Name will have you reaching for the hankies, first with laughter, then with tears.
Heart-warming and heart-breaking, this darkly comic debut is from a fresh voice set to become Scotland’s answer to Roddy Doyle.
I was really excited to pick this book up because it’s one of those rare books where I knew absolutely nothing about it going in. I’ve started avoiding reading blurbs now so that I can always be surprised when going into a book and for this one in particular, it worked like a dream. I was utterly hooked.
Mary’s only eight but she’s going on an adventure with her granpa. After witnessing a robbery at the bookies where her granpa worked, they decide to have a holiday to Portree to get away from it all for the summer. But Mary begins to find clues to a secret her granpa is hiding from her and she’s not sure what she should – or could – do about it.
Let me start this by saying that if you want a good depiction of what it’s like growing up in Scotland – accents, slang, telly, etc. – this is a great book. I got a bit nostalgic reading through it when things like Scabby Queen popped up!
Mary might only be eight, but she’s wise for her years. Playing spy games with her granpa have given her a curiosity that leads her to discover a dangerous secret. I loved Mary. She’s got a beautifully authentic voice and I was often laughing at some of the things she came up with.
The relationship between her and her granpa was beautiful. It reminded me of my own granddad, who passed away fifteen years ago, who I was very close to. It’s not often that you see such a loving relationship between grandchild and grandparent – or at least, not for very long in a book. To have the central relationship as such was wonderful to read.
I loved seeing the dynamics between Mary and the kids from Portree as they became friends and enemies. It captured the terrifying prospects of opening yourself up to new friends and getting over old ones. Showing how easy it is to make a potential friend an enemy and not shying away from the fall out of it, this book has so many layers to it that I couldn’t help but marvel at how all the little threads came together.
While the book is light and funny, there is a dark undercurrent throughout. The threat of danger lurks around every corner as Mary uncovers more about the secret her granpa is hiding. Every time he tried to fix it, I found myself hoping that he really would and that they could go back to how things were.
If only, eh?
This is truly a bittersweet novel and it did make me blubber at the end. If you’re looking for a book with a true Scottish flair, I highly recommend this one. It will make you laugh, cry, and reminisce over the good old days.
About the Author