The Gunners by Rebecca Kauffman

The Gunners is a meditative novel that looks at friendship, life difficulties, and difference. Mikey, Sam, Lynn, Alice, Jimmy and Sally were childhood friends, united by their relative freedom as latchkey kids and the abandoned house they made their den. When they were sixteen, Sally disappeared from their lives, no longer their friend seemingly without reason. Years later, they reunite for the first time for her funeral, and it turns out there were plenty of unspoken secrets about the time when Sally left.

The premise of The Gunners doesn’t sound particularly original, but the novel itself is quirky and thoughtful. It goes down routes that might not be expected, showing the differences in friendships and the ways in which people’s lives diverge and come together. It has a real focus on friendship that isn’t undercut as it can be in other novels and it really engages with the weirdness of drifting away from a group you were very close with and then coming back together. The ensemble cast is handled well, with the narrative looking into the childhood of each character alongside the present day.

A novel about friendship and hardship that keeps the focus on the friends, The Gunners was an enjoyable read, if at times as elusive with the past narrative as the characters were.