Come, Thou Tortoise by Jessica GrantCome, Thou Tortoise is a heart-warming book with really lovable characters. There was subtle humour with a quiet yet engaging plot. Audrey is brilliant, quaint, silly, admirable, and really just honest-to-goodness good. The book jacket blurb doesn’t do the novel justice and some things I quite disagree with (such as the term”IQ-challenged”). I picked up the book after all the great reviews I read.

A delightfully offbeat story that features an opinionated tortoise and an IQ-challenged narrator who find themselves in the middle of a life-changing mystery.

Audrey (a.k.a. Oddly) Flowers is living quietly in Oregon with Winnifred, her tortoise, when she finds out her dear father has been knocked into a coma back in Newfoundland. Despite her fear of flying, she goes to him, but not before she reluctantly dumps Winnifred with her unreliable friends. Poor Winnifred.

When Audrey disarms an Air Marshal en route to St. John’s we begin to realize there’s something, well, odd about her. And we soon know that Audrey’s quest to discover who her father really was – and reunite with Winnifred – will be an adventure like no other.

Somehow Come, Thou Tortoise is light, quirky, and funny while still being honest, gritty, and real. I don’t think adventure or mystery is quite the right word to describe this book. It is a character-driven story about family, truth, and love. Audrey’s life is turned upside down by the ‘comma’ her father is in and by her Uncle Thoby’s breakdown.

Featuring several flashbacks and retellings, we gain insight into Audrey’s childhood and the truth about her father and Uncle Thoby. She may be strange and have had an unconventional upbringing, but you can see that she was surrounded by love and good people who cared about her.

My favourite part is the tree in her bedroom that Uncle Thoby painted. He added little velcro bits so they could do the changing of the seasons with the various leaves, blossoms, and snowflakes. I also really like the way that Jessica Grant plays with words and makes you feel like part of the family too. I think The Globe and Mail’s review really nailed it on the head:

It might all sound a little madcap, and madcap narratives can be irritatingly self-conscious, shrieking, “Look how wacky I am!” from every page. Not here. Despite all the curiouser-and-curiouser behaviour, it all seems very familiar, and very “real.” Perhaps this is because the reader feels involved, spoken to like a member of the family, or of the community. From the “Northwest Shove” to the Gilbert & Sullivan in-jokes, the reader is included in the tribe.

Jessica Grant’s debut novel is calm and sprawling and very much Oddly. This intelligent, sweet, kind character truly wins you over within the first few pages. It really is a ‘delightfully offbeat story’, and the tortoise is an endearing narrator too!