Title: Our Endless Numbered Days
Author: Claire Fuller
Rating: 4 / 5
This was the September selection for one of my book clubs. At first I wasn’t too stoked about it–it was a book I had actually suggested (along with two others; it was put to a vote), but I had made my picks back in July without thinking about spooky fall reading. But almost as soon as I started reading it, I was like, oh, this is unsettling. This could be good. And it was–it was a great creepy read.
The story focuses on Peggy, who is the narrator throughout the book. The book is split between a “present” of 1985 and the main story, which starts to unfold nine years earlier and eventually meets 1985. In the first few pages of the book, we learn that Peggy is in her childhood home in London, looking at “the last picture that had been taken” of her father, who we quickly learn was a survivalist who built a fallout shelter and made all kinds of lists and engaged in somewhat erratic behavior. I never know how much to say about a book, because I feel like even the things on the jackets are often spoilers. But suffice to say, fairly quickly things take a turn for the unfortunate.
The writing in this book mirrors the story well. [CRYPTIC(?) SPOILERS] One member of my book club said she had a hard time connecting with the writing style because even though the story was first-person, it lacked emotion. But this is probably realistic considering what Peggy goes through. There were cues early on that Peggy is an unreliable narrator, which is one of my favorite tropes, so that definitely kept me interested and compensated for some descriptive writing that I didn’t love (but which was okay and appropriate given Peggy’s situation). One of the people in my book club works in mental health and thought it was a really well done portrayal of dissociative identity and trauma that she wondered if the author had had some experience with it.
Anyway the book was much darker than I had thought it was going to be; I think the illustration on the cover is deceptively “twee.” But in another way it is very fitting, because the book does keep you guessing. In any case, everyone at the book club meeting liked the book, which I think was a first (we are super picky). The story seems so simple, and on one level it really is, but I finished it several days ago and I find myself thinking about it more often than most books I finish. I think the characters are interesting and the writing was decent. Overall I would recommend it, with this caveat: it may be a more disturbing book than some people want to read. I am glad I didn’t know that going in, just ’cause I like having very little information going into a book, but it is something to keep in mind.