‘On The Up’ is the latest book by Alice O’Keefe.
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 film-maker friend Frankie, she’s ready to take a stand for what she believes in.
In her mid thirties, Sylvia finds herself looking at her life and comparing it to others. Living in Priory Court with her partner Obe and two children, she wants more from life.
One day, she decides to move house and finds the perfect family home that is way out of their budget. Currently on maternity leave and Obe on a low income, Sylvia finds herself scraping and saving to get by and Sylvia finds herself taking against Obe because of their situation. Once a happy couple, they are now in a place where they are pitted against each other due to their frustrations in life.
The story is well written and has complex and relatable characters. I really liked Sylvia and found myself sympathetic towards her and her situation. In the current climate, that revolves around culture and money, the story touches on the pressure that society puts on ourselves to succeed and to be on par with our peers.
As well as battling with poverty, Sylvia also has other struggles such has juggling two young children as well as her own health. Her relationship with Obe makes for interesting reading, occasionally witty, there is an element of sadness to their relationship.
The story focuses on poverty and mental health, as well as an exploration into relationships. An uplifting and insightful story about the struggles of life, relationships and health, ‘On The Up’ is a tenderly written and observational story about modern life and the struggle to keep up with the Jones’.
You can buy ‘On The Up’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.