All These Perfect Strangers 

Reviewed By  Grasshopper2       March 2, 2016


Author  Aoife Clifford

Distributor:       Booktopia/Amazon 
ISBN:                 9781925310726
Publisher:         Simon & Schuster
Release Date:   March 2016  


“Nothing is ever a clean break.  Everything has threads, even if you cannot see them.” These lines exude from the strongly illustrated front cover of this book, and the title is inside.  The main character, Pen, discovers the truth of this saying when she leaves town to begin a new life at University.  She finds the past will follow her always and impact upon the present.

 Pen, short for Penelope, grew up in a very small town.  The family consisted of Pen and her mother.  Her mother was desperate for a partner and, being very gullible, had several poor relationships in her past.  Despite a shocking incident in her teenage years, Pen found an opportunity to escape.  She won a scholarship to a university away from her home town, and settled down to study Law.  It was here that she met a mixed collection of people, many of whom lived to party.  Pen was confronted by a large variety of personalities and was often unable to choose friends discerningly.

 Despite this huge chance to change her life, and to study, Pen’s inability to understand people and their motivations, led her into situations in which she was trapped.  Her subsequent behaviour seemed to indicate that she could never break out of the Victim cycle, and make appropriate choices.  Her need to be part of the group overrode many other decisions that she would have to make.

 This is a tough read about people from a small town who have not been able to fit into society’s standards, and seem unable to normalise their lives.  There is a lack of love, compassion and empathy between the characters.  We understand that these emotions are present in Pen, but even her psychiatrist cannot find out how deeply embedded they are.

 This is Pen’s story, and we are left to ponder her future after such a traumatic past.