Number 32 – Cassie Steward

Book Review

This book absolutely blew me away! I was hesitant about whether it would capture my interest, but I was proven wrong from the very first page. Based on the blurb and social media posts I’d seen, my expectations were not particularly high, but I am so glad I read this book. I loved it so much that I plan to read it again!

About the Author

I’ve been following the author, Cassie Steward, on TikTok since last summer and knew that this was her first published book. She struck me as slightly unconfident at first, a little bit lost in the world of self-publishing, so I was quite shocked when I realised she hit best-seller status and over 100 book sales on the day of its release. I made a mental note to add it to my TBR list. (To be read list). 

I finally got around to reading this book last week, and it had me hooked from the outset. As a writer myself, it is hard not to analyse how a book is written, and I realised straight away that this author has an amazing talent – one of which I am slightly envious, if I’m entirely honest. I would be overjoyed to write a book like this by my twentieth book.

Indie Books

There has been much speculation over the years about ‘indie’ books (independently published by the author) and traditionally published work. There is no logical reason why traditional publishers accept some books and not others. Moreover, many authors choose the independent route for financial reasons and to have more control over their books. But just as with anything in life, there are a few bad apples that tarnish what is otherwise a professional and thriving niche of the market. 

Occasionally, you will find poorly written, edited, or produced books by indie authors, which give independent authors a bad name. I’ve come across the odd one. But I assure you this is not one of them!

Number 32 is an extraordinary achievement for a debut novel and a testament to self-published works. It is one of the best that I have ever read! 

The Story

Although the plot may appear to be conventional at first glance, it’s anything but. The unfolding drama at number 32 and the lives of the residents at number 31 present a family drama unlike any I’ve ever encountered before. 

Many issues are covered that will resonate with a wide variety of readers, and even difficult topics such as death and unwanted pregnancy are dealt with expertly, written in a style that is both funny and sensitive.

The story opens with Anna as an old lady who is clearing out the clutter from Number 32 in preparation to sell. She stumbles across memorabilia in each room that elicits memories from her past, and the journey begins. We are taken back to her early years, introducing her neighbour, Maggie, who becomes her best friend.

The two women could not be more different. Anna is from a council estate, and Maggie is from Chelsea’s ‘old money’ set. Both women are single mothers in the late 1960s and the relationship which develops is heartwarming. Their sons also become best friends, despite their contrasting characters. 

During the boys’ teens, we are shown the harrowing effects of drugs, teenage pregnancy and other traumas. There are twists and turns, with the announcement of the father of Anna’s son and the secret crush which her daughter has on Maggie’s son. The storyline is addictive, and I was taken on an intense emotional journey eliciting laughter, anger and tears. 

Characters

The characters are meticulously explored and vividly drawn, showing significant development as the story progresses. A testament to well-written characters is becoming so fully immersed that you feel their emotions. This happened a couple of times in the book, and I laughed out loud and shed a few tears.

There was a profound sense of connection with humanity, and I found the whole book to contain a raw and honest narrative. 

Whilst not in the thriller genre, the book had a thrilling storyline with some remarkably unexpected twists.

Saving the best ’til last

The true highlight of the book is undoubtedly the astounding talent of the author. Her command of language is nothing short of magical, and it made my heart sing. Her extensive vocabulary, combined with clever analogies, truly elevates the reading experience. I can confidently say that this is the best work I’ve ever read from an independent author (and I’ve read a lot!). The author is undeniably gifted.

If this is her debut book, I am beyond excited to see what she has in store for the future. I highly recommend this book to all readers. 

5 Stars *****

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