Lead Review

  • Book: Milk Teeth
  • Location: Barcelona, Paris, The North East (England)
  • Author: Jessica Andrews

Review Author: tripfiction



I found this novel quite riveting. It is the story of an unnamed young woman who grew up in the North East of England. She was raised by her mother. The author captures a sense of youth, with all the mixed feelings and experiments appropriate to that age.

The main character has no name, which fits for the issues which plague her in adult life. She is diminished and copes by reducing food intake – it is not to say she specifically has a typical eating disorder but food consumption is one way of controlling the world. Food for many people equates with pleasure and indulgence, but she keeps herself limited, which in turn means she remains small and unassuming, overlooked. Yet there is a rage there, as she anxiously seeks out contact with other and yearns for a place in society, but upon finding her goal, she withdraws and closes herself off.

This is a psychologically astute novel of anxious attachment, many readers will recognise aspects as the heroine ploughs through her life. chapters are set both in the present, when she is in London contemplating a move to Barcelona to be with a man, who is referred to as ‘you’. it is in part a confessional diary that addresses her partner and reveals her fears that cause her to act in certain ways.

She looks back at childhood, which seems very accurate in time and place. She considers experiences when she was working as a nanny in Paris. She ponders her time in South London working in a bar, living in a squat, which feels raw and grey. But it is her time in Barcelona that brings her story to life and the city forms a reviving and colourful backdrop to her relationship issues.

There is no plot as such but this is a wonderfully penned story of angst and shame and the author brings to life a genuine struggle one young woman’s struggle to understand her place in society and to discover what her goals might be. Place is pertinent and so is food, as she and her boyfriend, as an example, quaff their way through vermouth and Berenjenas con Miel. The heroine has to learn to understand the pleasure of food and learn that withholding is is limiting and psychological and physically damaging.

Don’t rely on what I try and convey here, just pick up a copy and the writing and style are mesmerising. A story that had me really hooked in…

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