Saturday 28 April 2018

Little Big Man by Katy Regan @katyreganwrites @MantleBooks @ChablisPoulet #Review #MyLifeInBooks

Meet 10-year-old Zac – a boy on a mission – in Katy Regan’s new novel Little Big Man . . .
You can't see the truth from the outside, that's what I've worked out.
Ten-year-old Zac has never met his dad, who allegedly did a runner before he was born. But when his mum lets slip that he’s the only man she’s ever loved, Zac turns detective and, roping in his best friend, hatches a plan to find his father and give his mum the happy-ever-after she deserves. What he doesn’t realize, though, is that sometimes people have good reasons for disappearing . . .
Little Big Man is a story about family secrets and fierce, familial love. It's about growing up and being accepted; grief and lies, and the damage they can do. Most of all though, it’s about a little boy determined to hunt down the truth; a boy who wants to give the Dad he’s never met a second chance to be a father – and his mum a second chance at love.

Little Big Man by Katy Regan was published by Mantle Books / Pan Macmillan on 19 April. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review and who invited me to take part in this Blog Tour.

I can safely say that Little Big Man is one of the my top reads of 2018 so far, I devoured it, every single page is an utter delight.  My review is below (this review was first published in The Daily Express on 20th April 2018).

Ten-year-old Zac lives on a council estate in Grimsby with his single mother Juliet. He has never met his father Liam but Juliet, his nan and grandad have always told him that Liam was uncaring, selfish and that he scarpered before Zac was born.
But one night Juliet goes out on a disastrous date, has too much to drink and when she gets home she reveals to Zac that Liam is the only man she has ever loved.
This is enough to convince Zac that he must track Liam down and bring his parents back together. Along with his best friend Teagan, Zac formulates a plan, little realising that he hasn’t been told the full story.
The real strength of Little Big Man is Katy Regan’s ability to create such convincing and endearing characters.
The setting of a grim council estate in a town devastated by the decline of the fishing industry is gritty and dark yet this is balanced by warm humour and a sense of community binding the characters together.
Regan brilliantly portrays Juliet’s struggles as a single mother whose dreams were shattered by an unexpected pregnancy, the death of her beloved brother, the disappearance of her partner and the impact of these events on her parents.
There is also a heartbreaking poignancy and bravery to Zac’s struggles with bullies in school and his desperation to find his father.
Little Big Man is a compelling, provocative and astute story of families and long-hidden secrets

I'm delighted to welcome author Katy Regan to Random Things today. She's talking about the books that have inspired her in My Life In Books.

My Life in Books - Katy Regan

The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-winkle by Beatrix Potter

As a child, I loved all of Beatrix Potter’s stories, but The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-winkle was my favourite. This idea of a hedgehog washerwoman, who wore an apron and lived in a house in a tree trunk, completely captivated me. However, I was as obsessed with Beatrix Potter as with the stories she wrote. So much so, that I spent one summer, dressed as her (straw boater, Edwardian long skirt and blouse) penning my own Potter rip-offs in our garden. My mum found the collection of stories in the loft recently. By Katy Regan, aged eight and a half, it says in the inside cover. Even then, I had romantic ideas of growing up to be like Potter: a financially independent writer living a somewhat unconventional life, and, in some ways, I guess I did!

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

I was given a red, leather-bound hardback of this the Christmas I was eleven and thought it the most beautiful present. I think it was an abridged children’s version, but still the perfect introduction to Dickens. Even though I wouldn’t have been able to identify them as such at the time, I was very taken with the themes of social inequality and moral responsibility, something which I have always been interested in exploring in my own writing.

Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

I studied this for A’ Level English Literature and – partly due to it being so well taught by our brilliant teacher – it had a deep effect on me as a reader, but most importantly, as a budding writer. Reading ‘Tess’ as us sixth-formers affectionately refer to it as, enlightened me to the power of imagery, metaphor and setting and how they can enrich the reading experience. It’s a dark tale, but a hugely passionate one, about fate, morality and of course love, in all its shades from light to the blackest of blacks.

Blazing Fruit by Roger McGough

My boyfriend at the time’s mum gave me this collection of poetry for my seventeenth birthday and I was delighted, mainly because I largely kept my love of poetry to myself. (What can I say? Not really the past time of choice for a seventeen-year old, where I came from anyway!) But she had suspected it, and more so, she honoured it. Still in the embryonic stages of finding myself as a ‘creative’ type, at that point in my life, I was really grateful to her for that! McGough is a northerner (one of the ‘Liverpool poets’) and this collection spoke to me (also a northerner), in a way others hadn’t.

Love in a Blue Time by Hanif Kureishi

For a while, just after I finished my degree in English Literature and had been reading books only to critique then and to write essays about them for what felt like YEARS, I fell out of love with reading for pleasure. This book just so happened to be the first book I picked up that helped me re-find that joy. These are alternative love stories that crackle with Kureishi’s trademark acerbic wit and commitment to realism.

Why be Happy When You can be Normal? By Jeanette Winterson

This is the best memoir I have ever read and I still think about it. It follows Winterson’s extraordinary upbringing in a Lancashire town by her Pentecostal adoptive parents (in particular, the God-fearing Mrs. Winterson), her coming out as a lesbian, and eventual search for her birth mother. Not only is it a gripping story, but probably the most inspiring tale I’ve ever read about resilience and one woman’s determination and commitment to becoming the writer and woman she wanted to be, despite of, but perhaps more importantly because of, what she’d been through.

White City Blue by Tim Lott

There are so many books I wish I’d written, but this was the one I was channelling as I wrote my first novel. It tells the story of estate agent Frankie and his journey towards commitment; his struggle to square that mate (romantic partner) vs mates (your pals) conundrum. It felt really relevant to me at the time and was a contemporary and funny novel that wasn’t in the least bit superficial. On the contrary, it really moved me, I loved it, and decided, I wanted to write a book like that.

Black Swan Green by David Mitchell
I adored this semi-autobiographical novel about twelve-year old Jason growing up in the Worcestershire Hills, finding himself as a wordsmith and surviving his parents’ divorce. It’s full of 1980s (my childhood era) nostalgia and is just deeply moving in that ‘I-so-remember-how-that-loss-of-innocence felt!’ It has one of my favourite ever, truest last lines too. Jason’s sister is trying to reassure him that everything will turn out all right all right in the end and if it doesn't yet feel that way, she says “that's because it's not the end.”

Katy Regan - April 2018 

Katy Regan was born in 1974 and brought up in the northern seaside town of Morecambe. She went on to study English and French at Leeds University where she became features editor of the student newspaper before moving to London. 
She wrote for various magazines and newspapers before becoming Commissioning Editor at Marie Claire magazine. 
Katy’s first novel, One Thing Led to Another, was published in 2009 and her second, The One Before the One, in November 2010. 2013 saw the publication of How We Met, closely followed by The Story of Youin 2014. 
Little Big Man is her fifth and newest novel. Katy, who has one son, now lives in Hertfordshire.

Follow her on Twitter @katyreganwrites

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