Title: Marshmallows for Breakfast
Author: Dorothy Koomson
Release Date: January 27, 2009
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Review: Originally posted at Curled Up With a Good Book
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Kendra Tamale needs a fresh start. Running away from a bad situation in Australia, Kendra returns to Britain and rents an apartment from the Gadsboroughs, a family with some hurts of their own. All Kendra wants is to be left alone and some peace and quiet while she sorts through her feelings and licks her wounds. The Gadsborough children, however, have other plans. Six-year-old twins Jaxon and Summer unexpectedly drop in on Kendra, and she realizes that they need her more than she needs solitude. Slowly she becomes a part of their lives, bonding with their father, Luke, who admits to her that his wife has left them and he is having trouble coping with single fatherhood.
Mysteries about each of their pasts lurk in the shadows. Why did Mrs. Gadsborough really leave? What was this “medicine” that Summer and Jaxon claim she had to take? And why is Kendra so unsure of herself? Why did she really leave Australia? What past memories haunt her? As Kendra becomes part of the Gadsborough family, these questions rise to the surface, and Kendra can no longer avoid the past she wishes so desperately to forget.
Marshmallows for Breakfast is an incredibly powerful novel that leaves the reader thinking for days after the last pages are turned. The book deals with some serious issues that I won’t name here for fear of spoiling the book; let’s just say it’s not your usual light fare. However, Marshmallows for Breakfast is never heavy or unwieldy. It is not depressing and keeps the reader fully engaged for the entire course of the book. A desperate sense of urgency propels the book forward at all times; Koomson’s ability to weave mystery into a complicated plot is masterful and keeps readers guessing. Indeed, the ending is a big surprise and not what readers will expect.
One remarkable thing about this novel is the main character, Kendra, and the fact that she is black. This isn’t a book about racial struggle or cultural differences. Kendra doesn’t HAVE to be black in order for the story to work – her race is only mentioned once or twice in the novel. But she is, and it’s just a fact of life. No big deal. It’s easy to forget how little that happens in genres such as this, and it’s definitely commendable. I wish it weren’t remarkable enough for me to mention it, but it is, and I enjoyed it very much.
Marshmallows for Breakfast is by no means a simple or light story. If you are looking for a fluffy read, then this book definitely won’t do it for you. This is a story about healing and coming to terms with ugly things from the past. It’s not a difficult book to read. On the contrary: it is very funny. I recommend it to anyone looking for a powerful novel that is worth reading.