What if the one thing that kept you together was breaking you apart? How can you repair something broken if pieces are missing?
Those questions are addressed in Missing Pieces, the debut novel from Laura Pearson, my special guest. Missing Pieces is the heartbreaking story of a family that suffers a shocking, devastating loss. Pearson explores the enduring impact of that loss in light of the ways in which the individual family members react to and deal with it. It is a remarkable debut.
Of course, within any dedicated writer lives an equally dedicated reader. Pearson shares some of the books that have had a profound impact upon her and her writing.
(Some of) the Books That Shaped Me
The BFG by Roald Dahl
I don’t know how old I was when I read The BFG, but the ending, where you find out that the BFG himself wrote the story, absolutely blew my mind. I was definitely too young to understand a novel being meta, but I had this shivery sense of excitement as I realized that, as a writer, you could really do anything you wanted.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
This was one of my GCSE texts, and I remember my Year 10 teacher bringing out a stack of copies and handing them out. I had no idea that I was about to read a book I’d return to over and over, and that would teach me so much about injustice and redemption. To this day, I cannot see or read the bit where Scout says “Hey Boo” without sobbing.
Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels
I studied this novel at university, and I’m not sure I would have picked it up otherwise. I was floored. I saw Anne Michaels talking once at the Hay Festival, and she said it took her ten years to write, and I’m not surprised. If I spent a hundred years writing a novel, it wouldn’t be anywhere near as beautiful as this one.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
I have really vivid memories of reading this in the quad at Portsmouth University on my lunch hours when I worked there in administration. Foer’s use of language is playful and the thread about Oskar trying to find the lock for his father’s key is wonderful, but it was the letters that really moved me. I don’t re-read a lot, but I must have read this book four or five times, and I recommend it to everyone.
If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor
I don’t actually remember reading this book for the first time, but I remember the effect it had on me. The prose is spare and the tiny details are such a joy. I wanted to read about those people living on that street forever. A friend of mine read it and said it reminded her of my writing, and I have yet to receive a bigger compliment.
Laura Pearson holds a Master of Arts degree in Creative Writing from the University of Chichester. She lives in Leicestershire, England with her husband and their two children.
As noted, Missing Pieces is her debut novel and it is garnering outstanding early reviews. For instance, Sarah Pinborough, author of Behind Her Eyes, called it “a stunningly assured debut that explores the ripples of a terrible family tragedy on the surviving fragile members. Beautifully written and surprisingly life-affirming.”
Thank you, Laura!
My reviews of Laura Pearson’s books:
Other guest posts by Laura Pearson: