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When homeless 19-year-old Mel steps into the Greenvale Shopping Centre she’s only looking for a warm place to spend a cold London December. But behind its glittering displays the Greenvale hides dark corridors and each person who crosses Mel’s path is about to be drawn in.
Mel’s arrival sets in motion an unstoppable chain of events that will have a life-changing effect on anyone who gets close to her.
There's no privacy in the Greenvale, where technology reveals everything except for the identity of who is watching who.
This is an engrossing, suspenseful and beautifully written story. It is centred in a superstore representing a self-contained world where the rootless young Mel finds comfort and a home away from the cold outside winter world of the Christmas season. 'What is home? Home is where you run from.' The conceit is brilliant: the superstore as a microcosm of a modern urban world of high technology and gadgets and CCTV, a Big Brother dystopia -- Golding did it with an island, Orwell with a farm, Lawless with an avenue, where the localised speaks for the universal in all of us. And Ward does it here successfully with the ultimate in ultra-modern -- the interior, cosseted environment of a shopping mall. Life out there is too hard; we need cloisters and closets of fantasised worlds to survive. But even such artificial constructs cannot be panoplied impregnably because here they become prey to bomb threats. This novel is important in that it posits questions of just how far we are really advancing, despite all our technology, as a civilisation. Who could not be moved by the poignancy of the lost Mel staring into the store camera, her eyes pleading: Look after me. Somebody.
This is an unusual book, which I would not necessarily have chosen for myself, but I am glad I was sent it. It concerns homeless Mel, nineteen, who steps into the Greenvale Shopping Centre looking for somewhere warm to spend a cold December day. She ends up living in a department store, and using the items in the place as though she has a right to them. The security guard notices her on the CCTV, and is fascinated by her and her actions. She is also noticed by the girl in the coffee shop, and a young man who works in the technology centre.
The effect she has upon everyone she encounters is amazing, and the effect she had on me was also very powerful.
There is plenty in this book to cover by reading groups: homelessness, the problems of technology, the ever present threat of terrorism, the far right and their outdated ideas about the rights of women. The story haunted my dreams for days afterwards.Sue Goult, New Books Magazine
About the Author
Adele Ward lives in North London with her sons Stefano and Danny. She worked as a journalist and author of nonfiction before spending four years in Italy where her children were born. She was one of the first students on Andrew Motion's postgraduate creative writing programme at the Royal Holloway, University of London.
Her poetry has been anthologised and broadcast on national and local radio, and other publications include a selection in the first Bedford Square anthology published by John Murray.
In summer 2010 she set up Ward Wood Publishing with Mike Fortune-Wood, and in 2011 she started the regular Friday Night Writers event in London.
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