Common Ground by Naomi Ishiguro

Today I’m sharing my thoughts about Common Ground by Naomi Ishiguro. Thank you to Tinder Press for a copy of this novel, won in a prize draw on Twitter. Common Ground was published on Thursday 25th March in the UK.

Synopsis:

From the acclaimed author of ESCAPE ROUTES, a bittersweet story of coming-of-age in a divided world, in the tradition of TIN MAN or BLACK SWAN GREEN.

It’s a lonely life for Stan, at a new school that feels more ordeal than fresh start, and at home where he and his mother struggle to break the silence after his father’s death. When he encounters fearless, clever Charlie on the local common, all of that begins to change. Charlie’s curiosity is infectious, and it is Charlie who teaches Stan, for the first time, to stand on his own two feet. But will their unit of two be strong enough to endure in a world that offers these boys such different prospects?

The pair part ways, until their paths cross once again, as adults in London. Now Stan is revelling in all that the city has to offer, while Charlie seems to have hit a brick wall. He needs Stan’s help, and above all his friendship, but is Stan really there for the man who once showed him the meaning of loyalty?

My thoughts:

I haven’t read Escape Routes yet, so this was my first introduction to the writing of Naomi Ishiguro. As the synopsis above states, this is a story about Stan and Charlie, two boys growing up in England, struggling to fit in with the ‘norm’. The boys have lived very different lives but find a common bond and become friends, but will their families be able to accept the friendship?

I enjoyed the story, both the teenage years and the ‘getting reacquainted’ in their early twenties. Naomi’s writing quickly made me care about both of them, hoping that they would find peace in a world that seemed to be stacked against them. I’m being deliberately vague in my review, because I don’t want to spoil the story for future readers, who also deserve to have the moment of clarity about the story that I did.

I work for a social mobility charity and this story could easily be about the young people that we work with. How many single parents leave their young teenagers home alone overnight so that they can work and earn the money needed to survive?

This is a thought provoking, well written debut novel, and I’m looking forward to reading more by Naomi Ishiguro in the future.

Author Bio (from Amazon):

Naomi Ishiguro was born in London, in 1992. Her first novel, ‘Common Ground,’ comes out with Tinder Press on 25th March 2021. Her first collection of stories, ‘Escape Routes,’ was published in February 2020. She’s a recent graduate of the University of East Anglia’s MFA Creative Writing Programme, and spent two years in her early 20s working as a bookseller at Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath.