Caught up in the alternating narratives of Max and Minnie, we are soon immersed in the story of their lives, and my empathy peaked, until I couldn’t wait for the next episode from each of them.
Eleven-year-old Max is frustrated by the changes in his life after his single mother connects with the man who fixes the boiler. A man unnamed, who seems annoying, at the very least, and somewhat verbally abusive. His teen daughter is a bully, and Max discovers how to deal with her, but I attribute his ability to do so from his newly found connection to Minnie.
Minnie is elderly, living with her older sister Clara, in Rosemount, the home at the center of the compound. Minnie’s writings in her diary recount events from the past that she has kept secret, specifically what happened to her in the early 1960s.
Set in England, The Comfort of Others takes place in the present, but veers into the past through Minnie’s entries. Max’s tapes are about his summer in the present, but also reveal how the intrusion of his mother’s new boyfriend has impacted his life.
My favorite parts were when Max and Minnie share their feelings with each other, and Minnie gives Max some ideas about how to deal with his mother’s boyfriend. He stands up for himself, expressing his feelings bravely and directly.
Minnie and Clara make life-altering decisions that sprang from Minnie’s ability to resurrect the secrets of the past and look at events in a new light.
An interesting story about friendship, secrets, and how communication can change lives. 5 stars.