Grandzilla by Lisa Williams
To say that grandmother Tillie and her granddaughter Tessa don’t get on is an understatement. Tillie is a real estate mogul, and she stands for everything that Tessa, a young activist, doesn’t like. Tillie’s husband has recently died, but instead of coming together in their shared grief they become even further apart. Tessa calls her grandmother Grandzilla behind her back and resents the time she is forced to spend with her grandmother, while her mother is away overseas with work.
But then Tillie’s 69-year-old cousin, Dawn, turns up on their doorstep – someone who Tillie hasn’t seen for more than 50 years. Dawn is dying of lung cancer, and she wants to make amends before she dies. But Tillie wants nothing to do with Dawn, a notorious terrorist, who was part of a far-left militant group active in the then West Germany in the late 60s. But Dawn wasn’t the only one with a radical past, and Tessa is soon to discover there is a lot more to her grandmother then she would have thought!
The action in this book moves between Berlin in the turbulent 60s and contemporary America. Grandzilla a superb, engaging read, with wonderfully drawn characters, and a great sense of place and time. The tension comes from a mix of the past and present, all culminating with a well-crafted ending. This book is definitely recommended, a story of ‘growing up, growing old and getting woke’. Who says grandmothers should be sweet old ladies? But don’t be fooled, the Grandzilla of this book is a multi-faceted character with much that is appealing under her apparent toughness – and the delight of this story is slowly piecing together what happened to her all those years ago in Germany and how this has impacted on her life.
Reviewer: Karen McMillan
Crummer Road Press, $28.00