Tully – Paullinna Simons


“Life is so constructed, that the event does not, cannot, will not, match the expectation.” Charlotte Bronte

Book recommendations are perhaps the epitome of subjectivity.  Depending on who is doing the recommending, I reserve my judgment (or sometimes ignore the recommendation completely!).  But when someone holds a book out as being their all time favourite book, couldn’t put it down, re-read it and give it away as gifts level of good, you have to give it a chance, right?

So Tully by Paullinna Simons ended up in my collection, another of those books of with an unknown shelf life on my, erm, shelf. I heard all about this book from my sister’s best friend, an avid reader who gets through books faster than I get through chocolate bars. So when I stumbled across her recommendation in a charity shop some years ago, I couldn’t leave without taking it (and probably another armful of books) with me.

And (using the scientific selection method that is Martijn’s Magical Book Randomiser) I took the book on holiday, delighted that I would finally get my teeth into such an esteemed work of fiction. But it just couldn’t love up to the expectation. The pedestal upon which it was put was more of a big step for it to trip over.

The premise of the book is a friendship between three girls through high school, one of who is the character Tully Makker. Of the three girls, Tully is complicated, troubled and prickly. Like all girls going through high school, the girls can’t help but get entangled with boys, and thats where the girls lives start to unravel. Tully had already grown up far quicker than her school friends, brought up by an unloving mother, who keeps Tully on a tight leash. When one of her best friends takes her own life, Tully’s is propelled into adulthood.  Though you would like to feel great sympathy for Tully, her character is so sharp and raw that you can’t get near to it.

And I think that was where I struggled with the book. Tully mostly annoyed me and I got frustrated with her more than I engaged with her. I often find that if there is no part of a character that I can relate to or connect with, then a book will rarely captivate me.  And that was the case with Tully. It didn’t slow me down in reading it (or stall my reading completely as is normally the case), but when I got to the end it was more of a relief than satisfaction. I could finally leave Tully behind, And indeed I did, in the hotel library.