Marshmallows for Breakfast – Dorothy Koomson

I was bought this book as a gift, and all I can say is, good choice! I was into Marshmallows for Breakfast right from the very beginning. I’d never read Koomson before, but I will definitely be looking out for her other books.

The story begins when Kendra Tamale returns home to England after spending a couple of years in Australia. You immediately get the impression that she’s running from something, but you won’t find out what that is just yet. She’s moved into a flat owned by separated father of two Kyle, and starts working for an old friend. She wants to get on with life and put her experiences in Australia behind her.

Kendra soon finds a distraction; two in fact, in the shape of Kyle’s six year old twins, Summer and Jaxon. She meets them rather unexpectedly in her flat having just stepped out of the shower. Their father is following closely behind them, triumphant at having proved to his children that their lodger is not in so they can’t meet her, and then almost dies of embarrassment as he realises they have walked in on Kendra in a state of undress.

Soon enough, though, Kendra sees Kyle in a rather unorthodox position himself, passed out on the sofa having drunk himself into oblivion. His children had broken into her flat and woken her because they couldn’t rouse their father. From that moment, Kendra is drawn into their family dynamic; finding out the ins and outs of why the couple have split up, leaving the clearly incapable Kyle to look after them. And everything is not as it seems.

Summer and Jaxon immediately take to Kendra, and she is thereon adopted ‘Kendie’ – and also as their ‘other Mumma.’ Kendra is both warmed and terrified by this prospect; she loves the children, but has been hiding a secret for many years which has made her keep everyone at arm’s length, particularly children.

As time goes on, parts of Kendra’s life start to look up; she adores the children and spending time with the family; but inside she’s crumbling. Her past insists on coming back to haunt her, and she doesn’t know how much longer she’s going to be able to keep running. Kendra eventually realises the only way to face up to her past is to meet it head on, and reveal the terrible secrets she’s been keeping for so long… but can she do it?

I really loved this book. Koomson has a way of writing that makes you genuinely care about the characters, getting involved in their lives, being in their heads, feeling what they’re feeling. It’s amazing. And the storyline itself was fascinating – there are so many subplots running throughout you’d think it would get complicated, but Koomson has woven them all in seamlessly, and they eventually all come together at the end. It wasn’t predictable, it had some great portrayals of things that can happen to people, but most importantly it shows that people can get through anything with help from the people that love them. Overall, a top read with some hard-hitting messages. I’d recommend this wholeheartedly.

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