Published by Unthank Books. Click here for more information.
Review by Chloe Allan
Poignant, raw and (surprisingly) quite comedic – author Chrissie Gittins beautifully articulates the feminine transition into womanhood, documenting the shifts in relationships and responsibilities that come naturally, alongside this growth.
It is clear when reading this collection that Gittins delves profoundly into emotion. From a reader’s perspective, her honesty is commendable, especially taking into account that Between Here and Knitwear is a semi-autobiographical piece of writing. While every story in this anthology is, observationally, brilliant, one story in particular distinguished itself from the rest, Ruby and Maroon, which documents the experience of a first period. The story is especially poignant, given that a first period is one of the earliest tangible moments that girls consider themselves to be an ‘official woman.’ Certainly (alongside getting a bra) that’s how it was for me. Gittins account of this was so brilliantly relatable – it did ‘hurt like hell’ when, initially, I attempted to use a tampon. The author’s precise use of detail make her stories so accurate and relatable, and it was as a direct result of this that I found the reading experience quite unique.
As Christine, a reoccurring character within the collection, grew, likewise did the stories and other characters around her. I found sympathy for characters where I previously felt none. In the latter stories, when her parents have aged and need nursing, Christine’s father admits that he ‘gets frightened (of) having a heart attack.’ It is moments like these that Between Here and Knitwear really resonates with its readers; such is the raw honesty of Gittins’ writing.
However, as much as Gittins dwells on death towards the end of her collection, so too does she celebrate life. Indeed, readers are encouraged to ‘live for the day and have a dream.’ Gittins’ stories capture the humour in the everyday without compromising on reality or poignancy. Without doubt, these stories are individual to the author, but she also captures moments that are universal to us all. Whether it is the nostalgic ‘keep to the left’ in the school corridors, or her ruminations upon how to approach bereavement, Gittins’ collection as a whole is a triumph.