Nearly-eleven-year-old Kate Happy lives in a creepy, smelly old farmhouse in the part of England--on the Welsh border--that's probably best known for constant rain. She's living with her Jewish-American grandma and bonkers grandad, because her Mum's off in some hippy commune and her Dad, having been run over by her Mum in her red sports car, is dead and kept in a mayonnaise jar. She avoids school whenever she can, barely gets to eat because her grandmother doesn't believe in getting fat, and is prone to peeing her pants in moments of stress.
Her Mum's return is just the first of many incidents that ramble through this debut novel. Happy Accidents is stuffed with quirky characters and loose ends, and given a refreshing tang by the author's distinctive voice. I liked it, even though it wouldn't normally be the kind of book I'd pick up (the chick-lit cover does it no favors). Kate's reactions to her world are very believable (the book is semi-autobiographical, where are the social services when you need them?) and watching her figure out her own rules in an environment where the adults just seem to make up the rules as they go along is quite thought-provoking.
This is a nice one to tuck in your pocket when you're heading off in the plane or on the beach. Not heavy reading, but intelligently written and entertaining.