I always feel a little nervous when reviewing a fellow bloggers work but I hope they will accept complete honesty given with respect rather than just a love fest.
They say don’t judge a book by its over but in the case of this one I would say please don’t judge it by its first chapter. When I began reading I came very close to putting it down, I was convinced I had picked up a young adult romance but if you get through those opening few pages you will discover this book is so much more.
Yes it does have young adult themes at first, the first time away from home, the teenage crush and that all important first time but this book deals with the coming of age themes in a way which may be seen as controversial in terms of topic but is heart rending at the same time.
The book examines the consequences of decisions made at a young age, I found myself in tears for the main character Bernadette, miles from home and in a terrible position facing a dilemma which she was in no way ready to deal with, no matter which choice she makes. The novel could possibly have taken a darker twist with the internal struggles she would have faced but I actually think it works better taking the line that she tries to push what is happening from her mind and distract herself with events happening around her. The characters are realistic and act in a way which you would for the most part expect I did struggle with the actions of Hanna feeling perhaps she should have gone a little further in ensuring that Bernadette really understood the lifelong impact of her decision rather than agreeing with her choice immediately. That was one thing I did find a little unrealistic that at each turn when Bernadette made a choice everyone agreed with it without question not once did any of the characters really push her to consider her actions or question how she was going to feel afterwards.
As the novel concludes it is in many ways condemning of the secrets which are kept, that each hoardes their own pain, yet had they shared the truth, it would have set them free to move closer to each other.
I have to be fair in marking it as I would any other novel so I give it 4 out of 5 simply because of that opening chapter which nearly led to me putting the book down.
You can find Martha Reynolds blog here and hopefully she will forgive me for the review!