About the book:
I'm forty now. I'm not sure I'm recovered. I still feel like an outsider sometimes, looking in on the world from a strange vantage point. Like I went to an alien planet and have come back, but no one understands what I saw. I suppose I will always be like that.' Growing up in a working-class family in the 1960s and '70s, with her narcissistic and neglectful mother, Lizette, and her stepfather, Piet, a construction worker who spends much of his time away from home, Terry learns early on that childhood, at least for her, is a matter of survival. Those who are meant to protect and care for her increasingly exploit her, and as she watches her mother drag herself to and from her job at Harry's Dry Cleaner's each day, then sink into alcoholism and eventually relinquish all parental responsibility, it is left to Terry to become the caregiver and protector of her four younger siblings. The only affection she is shown comes from the family's nanny Sophie, with whom she forms a strong bond, and from Piet who, while proving to be the more attentive parent, nevertheless exacts a high price for his favours. At twelve years old, Terry is unwittingly drawn into the student unrest of June 1976 when Sophie's son Rex disappears in the political tumult of the time and she tries to help her find out what has happened to him. At the same time she finds herself on a treacherous and terrifying journey of her own that she is powerless to control, and as she watches her family disintegrate around her, she has to dig deep to find the strength to cope. Terry's intelligence, resilience and fortitude make her the irresistible, heartbreaking heroine of Jelly Dog Days. Despite everything that the universe throws at her, she retains a passion for life and an innate optimism that are truly remarkable. Erica Emdon's debut novel is a story of trust and betrayal but, more importantly, it is about survival and, to some extent, redemption.