Reviews, Scottish Reads

Paper Cup

What if going back means you could begin again?

Rocked by a terrible accident, homeless Kelly needs to escape the city streets of Glasgow. Maybe she doesn’t believe in serendipity, but a rare moment of kindness and a lost engagement ring conspire to call her home. As Kelly vows to reunite the lost ring with its owner, she must return to the small town she fled so many years ago.

On her journey from Glasgow to the south-west tip of Scotland, Kelly encounters ancient pilgrim routes, hostile humans, hippies, book lovers and a friendly dog, as memories stir and the people she thought she’d left behind for ever move closer with every step.

Full of compassion and hope, Paper Cup is a novel about how easy it can be to fall through the cracks, and what it takes to turn around a life that has run off course.

This was my Scottish Bookclub book for the last few months, this book came to me with very high recommendations. So many of my fellow book clubbers had raved about this book. I’d wanted to read it for so long, my mum actually gifted me this for either Christmas or my birthday (June), so I’ve had it for a while. I was delighted to be able to give this book a time to shine!

The book started with a tragic event that took place in Glasgow back in 2014. There was a crash in the city centre that deeply affected the city, I remember it well. The crash happened next to the bus stop I used to use for work (I was nowhere near the accident, it was just somewhere that I used to be on a regular basis) and it was a bit emotional for me reading about in fiction.

I really liked Kelly as a character. She was homeless, an alcoholic, was surrounded by people yet felt alone. In spite of this, I did not pity Kelly. I felt so much empathy towards her but never pity. I don’t think Kelly would have wanted your pity.

I loved the character growth that she went through. She didn’t trust anyone but slowly, she experienced kindness and started to let her guard down. I absolutely loved her relationship with Collieflower, a wee dog that she literally saved.

I enjoyed the side characters from the shelter. They added some much needed lightness. I liked how protective her case worker was of her when people tried to take advantage of Kelly.

Every interaction that Kelly had with the people she met on ber pilgrimage resulted in a little bit more of her character being revealed. She was caring and kind, she was focused, she was determined and just so brave.

Through Kelly’s eyes, her experience as a homeless woman was shown. It made for some very upsetting reading. Every so often, she would meet a character who would treat her like an actual human being and my wee heart broke. There were so many characters that didn’t treat her like a human, like a person who can make their own choices. Some points of this book were very infuriating because of the way that people treated Kelly.

I enjoyed the pilgrimage, the journey that she took. I wonder if she would have taken the journey to return the ring if the owner didn’t live in Kelly’s home town. Kelly was riddled with guilt over an event from her past. The event was revealed ever so gradually and I was so surprised! I had to go back and reread some sections as I feared that I’d missed it. The twist really got me.

I didn’t enjoy the farmer scenes at all. I really wish that she found the dog in a different way because I did consider giving up the book very early on because of him. I hated the journalist storyline too. Leave the woman alone! There was so little to be gained by Kelly meeting the man from the accident, she was a human and not a photo opportunity.

I didn’t love this book but I did like it and I got a lot out of it. It’s important to read about characters who live different lives to my own. However I’m not the biggest fan of what I describe as ‘sad sad books’. I cry at everything already so it’s no great achievement for a book to make me cry. I aim to read more uplifting Scottish fiction as this book left me with a bit of an emotional hangover. I’m glad I read it though!

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