Author's debut novel has been described as 'a distinctive new voice' for fans of hit TV show Fleabag

A Wearside author is climbing up the book charts with her first novel.

Wednesday, 26th June 2019, 1:32 pm
Updated Friday, 28th June 2019, 12:56 pm
New talent: Jessica Andrews' debut novel, Saltwater, is a critical and commercial success,

Jessica Andrews’ new book, Saltwater, is on sale in bookshops across the UK after it was taken up by major publishing house Hodder and Stoughton.

The book tells the coming-of-age story of Lucy, who moves from Sunderland to university in London, then to Ireland. It draws heavily on Jessica’s own experiences as a working class teenager in Washington, then later in the capital where she had a variety of jobs, and Donegal.

The novel has earned positive reviews.

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Author Jessica Andrews' debut novel is a critical success.

The Guardian has praised the writing, saying: “This is a courageous book dealing frankly with youth, puberty, mother-daughter relationships, class, disability and alcoholism. There are difficult truths, but no wallowing.”

The Independent called Jessica: “A distinctive new voice for fans of Fleabag.”

The Times, meanwhile, has compared her to Booker Prize nominee Sally Rooney.

Jessica, 27, is a former pupil of St Robert of Newminster in Washington and was brought up in Houghton-le-Spring.

Saltwater has been published by major company Hodder and Stoughton

She now divides most of her time between Barcelona and the North East. She also teaches literature and creative writing and co-runs The Grapevine, an online magazine which champions under-represented writers and artists.

She is delighted to see her work in print and is still coming to terms with her own success.

Jessica said:“It’s exciting but a bit strange. It’s great to see it on the shelves. But when I look at it in the bookshops I’m embarrassed in case anybody else there knows it’s me.

She added: “I hadn’t read any book that said anything about my experiences about living in the North East. So I’ve done it myself.

“I haven’t read many contemporary working-class stories written by young women and writing the book has opened up spaces for me in that it’s given me a voice and a sense of self-worth. I wanted to open up space for other working-class women too.”

Saltwater is currently a top five title in the charts in Waterstones in Sunderland, where Jessica recently carried out a book signing session. But it could make the number one spot next week.