Alegra Bird was raised on Valentia Island by her deeply eccentric father after her mother abandoned them soon after Allegra’s birth. Alegra is nicknamed Freckles (for obvious reasons) and grows up wanting to join the Garda. When that dream doesn’t eventuate, she moves to Dublin to become a parking warden and a life model and lives in a flat above a gym . She is kind of kooky and awkward. Her days revolve around a regimented routine, order, being rule observant (mostly) and the desire to find her long lost mother.
There is a guy who drives a yellow Lamborghini and never pays for parking. Freckles dutifully issues him parking tickets frequently. One day the driver confronts her and yells aggressively, ‘you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with’, implying that her five must be losers, just like her.
They say you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with, he says, glaring at me, nostrils flaring like a wolf. Doesn’t say a lot about the company you keep, does it. That’s one, he points in Paddy’s direction. I wonder who the other four losers are in your life.
The confrontation sets Allegra obsessing about her ‘five’, she not even sure if she has five and what that says about her. She develops a determination to get the five right people into her life to shape her and her future, and help her join the dots.
But this is what happens when you come apart, the secret bits you knew about each other dissolve into nothing.
The story is told from Allegra’s point of view (free of speech quotation marks which seems to accelerate the pace) who is an endearing, flawed character. Freckles is light, funny, at times sad, but ultimately an uplifting story about human connection, friendship and self discovery.