cover image To Fill a Yellow House

To Fill a Yellow House

Sussie Anie. Mariner, $27.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-308738-5

Anie’s poignant debut revolves around two London outcasts who find solace in each other during the 2014 recession. No sooner has Kwasi, 14, moved into a new house with his mother than the house starts filling with aunties. He misses his father, who’s in Ghana building a house for the family, and struggles to fit in at school. He needs space and a place to belong, and unexpectedly finds both one Halloween night at a charity shop called Chest of Small Wonders, which he darts into while fleeing from bullies. Enter Rupert, the shopkeeper, who has been isolated ever since the death of his wife (community members suspect his illicit and potent tea was responsible). Kwasi and Rupert’s friendship develops as the shopkeeper nurtures the boy’s passion for drawing, and Kwasi helps bring the shop back to its former glory. Though the author gets off to a slow start and fails to set up much of the third act’s drama (drugs, weapons, a fire), she confidently handles the theme of building a surrogate home (“Home is in these moments of connection too, of seeing people who get it, who are moving towards this same space that calls him too”). Despite the flaws, it’s hard not to be moved. (Nov.)