This is a disturbing and uncomfortable read and I think that Henderson meant it to be so. The discomfort and lack of love and affection we feel in the book reflects the life of the narrator, Grace Williams. The portrayal of institutionalised life is grim and gritty with only companionship, love and sex as small consolations for a life full of insults and hardships.
The visual aspect of the book are beautiful, with many evocative descriptions of the small treasures that Grace does manage to find in her life, from the smell of apples to the dodgem cars.
Many parts of the book are poetic, with a musical description of a cello being played and journeys that conjure the cigarette smoke imbued in them. Despite this, the discomfiting parts of the book are the major factor, with uncomfortable tongues, dribbling, bed wetting and teeth pulling all memorable aspects that some readers may find horrifying.
It’s not an enjoyable read because of this, but it is an effective and thought provoking read and Emma Henderson is another writer worth watching.