Steeped in the dry heat of a South African summer, this keen and touching debut seamlessly interweaves the voices of Indigo and her mother, and beautifully captures the human desire to belong: in a family, in a country, in your own skin.
When eleven-year-old Indigo and her older brother Robin arrive in South Africa to stay with their father, they find a luxury lifestyle that is a world away from their modest existence back in England. But Indigo is uneasy in the foreign landscape and confused by the family’s silence surrounding her mother’s recent death. Unable to find solace in either new or old faces, she begins to harbour violent suspicions in place of the truth.
Vincent’s style has [a] sparse, quiet voice... lending subtle nuance to this disturbing family saga.
[Aalrm Girl] as tones of despair and loneliness as the Taylor family crawls toward a new normalcy... written for an attentive audience. Vincent’s style has [a] sparse, quiet voice... lending subtle nuance to this disturbing family saga.
15 August 2014
Hannah Vincent's characterisation of Indigo is perfect. She has created a little girl who is innocent, vulnerable and confused, but also perfectly believable. Indigo's childish curiosity, along with her confusion about the death of her mother are blended so elegantly together... The South African setting is exquisite... I am incredibly impressed by this fabulous little novel. It's short, but deals with so many issues, and the story unravels slowly but quite perfectly.
A moving and recognisable exploration of a family struggling to manage and openly process the death of a mother... stranded in a foreign land both literally and metaphorically Indy is left to construct her own version of the truth. Beautifully paced… compelling but never sentimental.
Rarely has a child narrator been written so convincingly, and with so much obvious (and deserved) affection from its author. But we hear also from Karen and Nan (Val), generously allowing the reader an insight into the lives of three generations of girls and women from the same family. Their unfurling stories add lip-biting tension and are key to Alarm Girl’s success... Though this is a novel slender in form, it's a hugely sating read. It speaks of family (truthfully), of loss (sensitively), of growing up (tenderly, beautifully). Compelling, beautiful and poetic, this is a book to get utterly lost in.
An assured exposition of grief, belonging and the nature of self. Convincing characterisation and strong evocations of South Africa and suburban Britain conspire to turn a simple tale into a book which lingers in the mind.
Writer’s Hub: Ten books to read this summer
This novel did subvert my expectations; it is not a light-hearted, coming-of-age story – it is about family tragedy and mental illness. In tone and content I could compare it to Nathan Filer’s The Shock of the Fall… Alarm Girl is a subtle and yet powerful novel.
An Armchair by the Sea
Alarm Girl is about the importance of telling kids the truth... I loved the extreme suspicions Indigo formulates in response to not knowing the truth of what really happened to her mother.
Brighton & Hove Independent
This book has the wonderful ability to make you remember... a book about finding your place.
Perfectly evoking the South African setting and written with such emotional intelligence that the characters are entirely real, Alarm Girl is a gem of a book. Beautiful, moving and achingly human.
Vincent brilliantly captures the bluntness and inquisitive nature of a child... Back home in the UK, Indigo and her brother are looked after by their grandparents and Vincent wonderfully captures the pure relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren. Alarm Girl is a book you will love at any age... Hannah Vincent is clearly an exciting talent.
Turnaround Book of the Month
Readable holiday fiction with a literary edge... Indigo’s voice haunts the pages of the novel, intertwined with that of her mother, searching for her place in life... Turbulent emotions swirl through the novel, like the burning heat of the South African summer, making this compelling and subtle debut one for all seasons.
Once in a while a little gem of a book comes across our path. And Alarm Girl is one such gem. A short and cracking read... [Vincent] has a great gift of finding the voice of an 11 year old girl and of setting this condensed glimpse of one family in the dry heat of South Africa. A true achievement.