Unbecoming Book Review by Jenny Downham



Goodreads Summary:Three women – three secrets – one heart-stopping story. Katie, seventeen, in love with someone whose identity she can’t reveal. Her mother Caroline, uptight, worn out and about to find the past catching up with her. Katie’s grandmother, Mary, back with the family after years of mysterious absence and ‘capable of anything’, despite suffering from Alzheimers. As Katie cares for an elderly woman who brings daily chaos to her life, she finds herself drawn to her. Rules get broken as allegiances shift. Is Mary contagious? Is ‘badness’ genetic? In confronting the past, Katie is forced to seize the present. As Mary slowly unravels and family secrets are revealed, Katie learns to live and finally dares to love. Funny, sad, honest and wise, Unbecoming is a celebration of life, and learning to honour your own stories.

My Rating:4/5 stars


Unbecoming follows three  generations of woman who are facing a variety of problems. We have Katie a seventeen  year old girl who’s struggling to come to terms with her identity, Katie’s Mom ,Caroline who’s very protective about her children and secretive about her past and finally Mary,Caroline’s Mom who hasn’t been in the picture for many years and has now reappeared. This is a very moving book that is so rich and interesting that you will continue to think about it after you’re done reading it.Unbecoming alternates between past and present, as we learn about Mary and the circumstances that have rendered her unable to be able to be in Caroline’s life. As the story progresses we learn of the many secrets that all three women hide  and what pushed them to hide them.


This story is very character based. First let’s start off with Katie. Katie is a very driven and  is that way mainly because of her mother. Her mother has encouraged her immensely to succeed and to focus a lot on her schoolwork.But during the course of Unbecoming, Katie begins to question and challenge her focus on schoolwork and starts to broaden her horizons. This is partially due to the fact that she’s struggling to come to terms with her  sexual orientation. This struggle has led her to doubt herself and everyone around her. Katie’s character was  very well developed, and at the end of Unbecoming her character really did a 180 and changed immensely.

The other two main characters are very interrelated. Mary had Caroline at a very young age, and wasn’t able to care for her so she gave Caroline to her sister Pat. Caroline deeply resents Mary for this, so when Mary is just dropped on their doorstep, she feels reluctant to care for her Alzheimer ridden mother.As the story continues, we learn more about Mary’s life as well as Caroline’s which makes able to sympathize with both of them.

While I instantly liked Mary and found the effects of Alzheimers on her to be heartbreaking, Caroline was a little less likeable at first. She was portrayed as very strict and uptight, but she had her reasons for this and I grew to enjoy her character. Overall all three characters were really well rounded.

Unbecoming is a wonderful story that has great lessons about loving who you are and forgiving people for their mistakes. It’s a fantastic read and I recommend it to any Young Adult readers who are looking for something that’s is closer to an Adult read.


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