When it comes to the question of what most of us look for in a story, ‘a happy ending’ is often the answer. But in recent years, this old adage has become so true that a new literary genre has been spawned, where kindness is always at the core.
‘”Up-lit” is about “broken” people finding redemption, or being helped to fix themselves, or being given a second chance,’ explains Frances Maynard, whose latest novel The Seven Imperfect Rules of Elvira Carr perfectly channels the style. ‘The genre’s trademarks are that most people are inherently kind, and that there is always hope.’
As for why we’re reaching for these comforting tales right now? ‘The stories are entertaining and satisfying, and because there is a deep human need for justice; for things to be put right,’ she says. ‘Recently we’ve seen unsettling political change, disturbing current events, cuts in public spending and increased social isolation. Perhaps up-lit, with its emphasis on kindness and empathy, is a response to troubled times.’
5 of the best up-lit books
First written as a short radio play, Rachel Joyce’s story of a man walking the length of the country to visit an old colleague with cancer has been capturing hearts for years. The touching tale covers challenging subjects like loss and grief, but in an uplifting way that’ll keep you hoping that the rumours of a film adaptation are true.
If you haven’t already read 2017 bestseller Eleanor Oliphant, don’t put it off any longer. Heroine and self-confessed creature of habit Eleanor is one of the most endearing characters to hit shelves in years – you’ll root for her until the very last page as she slowly takes down the walls she’s built around herself, and learns to accept acts of kindness from the most unlikely sources.
In the early 1980s, Leon and his little brother Jake are taken into foster care when his mother suffers a mental breakdown. What follows is a frank, often funny, and emotional account of his fight for the fierce bonds of family.
With a staggering 95 per cent five-star reviews on Amazon, Little Big Man takes us on an incredible journey with Zac, a 10-year-old who wants to find the father that ‘did a runner’ after he was born, and give his mum a second chance at love. We defy you not to fall in love with him instantly.
The Seven Imperfect Rules of Elvira Carr follows the story of neuro atypical Elvira, as she navigates the world on her own for the first time after her mother has a stroke and is taken into care. Armed with her Seven Rules, which she puts together after online research, Ellie hopes to learn how to navigate a world that’s full of people she doesn’t understand.