The Space Between Us by Doug Johnstone

I have mixed feelings about this book. In many ways it felt like a young adults novel although it doesn’t mention that anywhere.

It is a perfectly readable book: three people have a stroke and then recover only to find out that they were affected by an octopus-like being from space landing on earth and looking for help. Ava needs to escape her abusive husband, Lennox needs to find a family of some description and Heather has never recovered from the death of her daughter.

Their quest to help the alien being leads them on a run that ends up in Scotland chased by the police and Ava’s husband. Unexpected people help them out and they come to understand that Sandy, the alien, needs help and is looking for someone. Eventually they all find what they are looking for – it’s a rags to riches story – and thousands of octopus-like aliens come down to earth.

The message is that we are all connected and need each other for our overall health and well-being and that we are not whole until this happens. And it is also about our response to ‘aliens’ arriving in our country looking for a better life – very apposite at this point in time. The book is a bit simplistic in that everyone else touched by Sandy dies and whilst we would like those who we disagree with to disappear sometimes, it’s never going to happen.

Val McDermid has a quote on the front of the book so I am imagining that Johnstone is a Scottish writer and it is also a book that featured on BBC 2’s Between the Covers programme in 2023.

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