Tin Man by Sarah Winman

In brief: Ellis is at a loss. This is the story, both heartbreaking and happy of his best friend and love.

The good: Incredibly emotional at times.

The not-so-good: I felt a little lost at the start.

Why I chose it: Rave reviews from people who I trust for book recommendations. Thanks Hachette for the copy.

Year: 2017

Pages: 197

Publisher: Tinder Press (Hachette)

Setting: Oxford, England and some other places (won’t spoil the magic for you)

Rating: 9.5 out of 10

I have read so many fantastic reviews of Tin Man coming up to its release from people I trust for book reviews that I simply had to read it. (OK, maybe the colours of the cover swayed me too – a book that matches my AFL team has to be brilliant!) It’s a slim novel, but don’t think that you’ll be left hanging or have finished it in an hour. Tin Man is beautiful from every aspect – prose, plot and raw emotion that you can’t help but savour every single word.

I knew very little of the plot before I started reading and I think the element of surprise makes the novel even stronger. The book blurb is similarly vague, so here’s what you need to know. The story is about two boys, Ellis and Michael. We start with Ellis as an adult and move back and forth in time. Ellis meets Annie which has an effect on their relationship, but is it detrimental or strengthening?

The overall theme of the novel is love in all forms. There’s romantic love, friendship love, parental love and family love. Sometimes love makes you stronger. Sometimes it breaks you. Likewise, the emotions in the novel range greatly. There are the highs of passionate love, the joy of discovering love and the familiarity that love brings between two people. There are characters that find it difficult to express their love, which leads to misunderstandings and breakdown in communication. And what do you do when love changes or is replaced? Can one love be replaced for another; will it fit neatly into the same place in your heart?

I did find that coming into the novel initially, I was a bit confused. We meet Ellis at a time of loss when his life is wake up, work and roam around a silent house. It feels empty, slow and lost, but please persevere – it’s meant to be like that. Ellis is empty and lost and Sarah Winman does a fantastic job of transferring those feelings to the reader. After that, the novel opens up to the past from both Ellis and Michael’s points of view and there are so many more feelings to explore, from rejoicing to despair. You won’t want to rush this novel and once you finish it, you’ll want to read it again. The characters are crafted so delicately that each one enters your brain fully formed…the present day Ellis stooped and hollow, Annie full of warmth and humour that she almost glows and Michael, intense and determined no matter what the occasion.

Each scene, each interaction in Tin Man is crafted lovingly and refined to perfection. You can tell that the author has spent time shaping the story into the very best it can be. Simply put, it’s beautiful and sad with a glimmer of hope. Don’t to be surprised to see Tin Man on a number of literary prize lists soon.

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