I had mixed feelings about Carty-Williams’ debut Queenie but I was interested to read her next book. I think it’s an improvement but somewhat flawed.
People Person is about five half-siblings: Dimple, Nikisha, Danny, Prynce and Lizzie. They all have the same deadbeat dad, Cyril, who suddenly turns up and introduces them all to each other from different corners of London. The story follows how they reconnect with each other later as adults and recognise how strong their mothers are. Oddly the story took a dark twist early on that veered into thriller territory but it soon became a contemporary drama about family and relationships. Several events in the plot which ought to have police involvement do not, which demonstrates the reality of black people being wary of contacting the police due to institutional racism.
I think that the issues addressed in the book, along with the characterisation (quite impressive for such a large cast of characters) are the strengths of this novel. The weakness is the narrative style, which is in third person, mainly following Dimple but incorporating what a few other characters are thinking too. A sort of semi-omniscient narrator. It felt muddied and should have been solely Dimple’s narrative, or else a more complete picture of everyone. I would have preferred the latter, because Dimple isn’t an interesting protagonist. She’s thirty, still living with her mum, has two rubbish boyfriends and is an unsuccessful ‘influencer’. She’s a nice person, vulnerable and very emotional, yet I don’t think she’s quite enough to fill the story.
I’m guessing that the writing, editing or proofreading of this book were rushed to meet a deadline, as there were repeated words, identical sentences one after the other and an instance of the wrong character’s name used. I have to mention this, as it strongly affects the reading experience.
Published by Trapeze, 2022.