OUTSIDE, THE SKY IS BLUE is a beautifully drawn, heart-breaking yet also joyful memoir of growing up, of living with mental ill health and cancer, and of working out what it means to be in a family, what it means to lose a family – and what’s left when you’re the last one left.
When Christina Patterson’s brother Tom died very suddenly, she faced the harrowing task of clearing out his house. Tom had always been the one who held on to the family treasures and memories, but now Christina had to sift through box after box of letters, papers, photos and belongings, not just of Tom’s, but of their parents and their older sister, Caroline.
Those boxes, albums and papers tell the story of a young couple who decide, when their children are small, to swap a glamorous diplomatic life in Rome for a housing estate in Surrey. But their new suburban life, of trips to National Trust houses, fizzy drinks over TV costume drama and walks at Wisley Gardens, is increasingly disrupted by Caroline’s, erratic behaviour. As she is diagnosed with schizophrenia, Tom seeks solace in sport and Christina in a youth club where she hopes to meet boys, but finds God.
‘Patterson is a passionate, funny woman who refuses simply to struggle on. She believes in living. And throwing parties. And friendship’ Sunday Times