On The Up by Alice O’Keeffe


Coronet 14th November 2019 (Hardback)

Book Description

Sylvia lives in a flat on a council estate with her not-quite-husband Obe and their two young children.  She dreams of buying a house on a leafy street like the one she grew up in.  If she closes her eyes, she can see it all so clearly: the stripped floorboards, the wisteria growing around the door…

It’s not ideal that she’s about to be made redundant, or that Obe, a playworker, is never going to earn more than the minimum wage. As sleep deprivation sets in, and the RnB downstairs gets ever louder, Sylvia’s life starts to unravel.

But when the estate is earmarked for redevelopment, the threat to her community gives Sylvia a renewed sense of purpose.  With a bit of help from her activist sister, and her filmmaker friend Frankie, she’s ready to take a stand for what she believes in.

My Thoughts

Today I am delighted to be kicking off the blog  for On The Up by Alice O’Keeffe.  Thank you to Jenny Platt for inviting me to be involved and for sending me a proof copy of the book.

I found this to be an easy read with a strong dose of nostalgia and an emphasis on family, friendship and community.  As the synopsis describes, Sylvia lives with her partner and very young children on a council flat.  Her neighbour downstairs is chaotic and her nocturnal, noisy lifestyle is having a huge impact on Sylvia’s life, this combined with caring for her young baby and being made redundant lead to an overall dissatisfaction with her life.

 This was a nice read, it was Sylvia’s story as she struggled with life, with not enough money, limiting her choices and leaving her feeling stuck.  Her tiredness was tangible as night after night she was kept awake by her lively neighbour partying into the early hours.  I sympathised with Sylvia as she strived for something better, although her partner was a lesson in living in the moment and enjoying what you do have – the contrast in the two was stark and their need for balance evident.

A lot was packed into a little over 300 pages and I think the end result meant lots of issues were touched upon but none in any real depth.  This was fine, but there was lots going on for Sylvia and some more focus on certain aspects would also have made for an interesting read.  The overall effect however was a woman struggling who was empowered and helped by a positive community movement.

The characters were likeable, I was particularly fond of laid back Obe but completely understood Sylvia’s frustrations and desire for more.  The relationships were generally warm and supportive and while some of the issues were sad, this was a hopeful and uplifting book.  Overall a very pleasing read, this book is published on 14th November.

This is a blog tour so do please check out what others are saying about this book, details of all involved below –


About the Author

Alice O’Keeffe is a freelance writer and journalist.  She was deputy editor of the Guardian’s Saturday Review section, and writes books reviews, interviews and features for the Guardian, Observer and New Statesman.  She has been a speechwriter at the Department for Education and literary programmer at the Brighton Festival.  Alice lives in Brighton with her husband and two children.

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