Classics

The Making of a Marchioness – Frances Hodgson Burnett Review

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Rating: ★★★★

The next book in my mission to read the long-forgotten titles on my bookshelves is this one, which I picked up a few months ago in Persephone Books in London. I was intrigued it because I had previously thought that Frances Hodgson Burnett had only written for children, and I found that her novel The Making of a Marchioness was sweet and enjoyable like her other more famous works such as The Secret Garden.

Emily Fox-Seton is in her thirties, lives in a boarding house in London, and makes her living running errands for women of much greater means than her own. It is when one of those women invites her to stay with her in her country manor house, that Emily’s fortunes are turned around. Although she is only there to run errands for her host as she entertains other equally wealthy guests, Emily catches the eye of the marquis James Walderhurst. He choses her over the other younger and wealthier ladies and the two marry.  The second half of the book, originally published as a sequel, sees Emily, now Walderhurst, fight off schemes from James’s heir presumptive, who is concerned that the old Marquis’s new marriage may rob him of the wealth he is set to inherit.

Emily is an innocent and naive young woman. She is thankful for any and every kindness shown to her, and is oblivious to the fact that they may not be kindness. She exclaims that people are very good, because she has nothing to give but is always receiving, without realising that she is always giving to those around her, whether in the form of running errands for them, or giving them advice. Even though she is far from the smart and lively protagonists that we’re used to today, Emily is a genuinely good person who wants nothing more than to help those around her, and I enjoyed seeing her come into a life of comfort and wealth. I liked the brief commentaries on social class, particularly Emily’s concerns at the start of the novel that she would be forced to go to a workhouse in her old age. It makes her root for her, in contrast to the other ladies who are vying for the marquis’s hand in marriage, whose only concerns are that they will be spinsters, and not that they will live in poverty.

The two halves of the novel are very different in tone. The first half is similar to Austen, whilst the second half is darker in tone and also shows the perspectives of the Osborns, who are plotting to get rid of Emily. I enjoyed both of these, although at times the second half seemed too slow. In the first half, I enjoyed Emily’s character, for the reasons above. It is in this part of the novel more than the second that we see her pleasure in helping others. In the second half, I enjoyed the Osborns, and Emily’s maid Jane. However, there were issues with pacing and tension, and this wasn’t helped by the fact that Emily’s way of dealing with the threat is to simply remove herself from them and go into hiding. There were also issues with racial sensitivity as Hester and her maid Ameerah, who are from India, are described in ways that would likely not be published today.

However, I did like the ending of the novel, which showed a more romantic side to the Waderhurst marriage, whilst also showing Hodgson Burnett’s own cynicism of marriage. My copy included an afterword that highlighted the interesting way that the author chose to end the novel with a scene between the two women, rather than a romantic conclusion, which made me realise that the book was actually more interesting and complex than it might seem from the outside. I also found it interesting how despite marrying well, the entire second half of the novel takes place without Emily having the support of her husband, who is travelling on business. It means that throughout the entire novel, we are faced with Emily’s independence, even if she is naive, and we see that just as she has helped other women in her way, other women flock to support her in exchange.

Overall, I liked The Making of a Marchioness for the way that it took a simple romantic plot and turned it on its head. This is not a flowery fairy-tale romance like other period dramas, James and Emily do not fall in love instantly, but marry for other reasons like companionship and security, and instead grow to love each other. Emily is definitely a woman of her time – the novel having been published in 1901 – but I enjoyed seeing her relationships to others around her.

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Book Reviews, Sci-Fi & Fantasy

Windhaven – George R.R. Martin and Lisa Tuttle Review

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Rating: ★★

I’m a massive fan of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, but like many others, I’ve been impatiently waiting for the next instalment for years and years. So, I decided to give George R.R. Martin’s other books a chance, and picked up Windhaven when I found it in a secondhand bookshop. I was really excited to see what else the mastermind behind Westeros had come up with, but Windhaven just fell flat to me.

Windhaven is set on a world made of various islands, and communication between these islands is effected via ‘flyers’, who fly on wings made of a special fabric. These flyers are selected from an elite group of families, who pass the wings onto their children. However, Maris of Amberley, a fisherman’s daughter who is adopted and raised by a flyer, is furious when her stepfather takes the winks from her and gives them instead to her younger stepbrother, his natural born son, despite her being the better flyer. She is so angry that she begins a revolution of sorts, sparking a series of events that changes the course of her life, to allow flying to be an option to everyone in Windhaven.

One of the things that I liked about Windhaven was the insight into various times in Maris’s life that we get. The first third of the book shows her as a young woman, when she protests against the elitism of flying and asks for access to wings to be based on merit rather than birth. In the second third, Maris is a teacher in one of the schools that she has helped to set up, teaching children born to non-flyer parents how to fly so that they may compete for wings. The third and final part is a now elderly Maris, injured so badly while flying that it marks the end of her lifelong dream. While I feel like it is done in a somewhat disjointed way, by the end of the novel I enjoyed seeing her growth and the bigger picture of her life.

However, there were issues that I had with this novel. As I said, I feel like the plot was quite disjointed, and this is made worse by the fact that the three parts of the novel don’t share a real uniting overarching plot. Rather, each one feels more like a standalone story.

Further I really didn’t understand the world and feel like the world-building was lacking. It was only by looking at the blurb of the book that I understood that Windhaven was another planet, that humans crashed their spaceship on, and that flyers’ wings are made from the materials of the spaceship, hence explaining why the wings are so rare and difficult to acquire. I think I might remember this vaguely being told at one point, but if it was told, it was told in such a boring way that I barely acknowledged it. This was an issue in much of the world-building – it was told via info-dumps, political-style speeches, or just otherwise in a way that was just distracting me from the plot, and desperate to find it again.

Overall, I really wish that I could say that this fulfilled my desire to find something to compete against Game of Thrones, but it didn’t feel at all like it George R.R. Martin was behind it at all. This book was frankly, boring, and although there were aspects that I liked to a degree, it wasn’t enough to salvage the slow, disjointed, and difficult to wade through plot.

Book Reviews, Contemporary

A Song For Issy Bradley – Carys Bray Review

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Rating: ★★★★★

I’m currently on a mission to get through the books I have acquired over the years and have not yet read, and A Song For Issy Bradley has been sitting on my shelf for over a year. I was not expecting much from it, not being a huge fan of contemporary fiction, but this book blew me away. I found it to be really moving, and couldn’t put it down.

Issy Bradley is the youngest daughter of Ian and Claire. The Bradley family also includes daughter Zipporah, or ‘Zippy’, and sons Alma and Jacob, and the family are devout Mormons. The book opens on Jacob’s birthday, and mother Claire is struggling to prepare for the birthday party she will throw for him as Ian is away on church business. She is so busy that she doesn’t have enough time to check on Issy, who has been feeling poorly, and by the time she does, she realises that Issy’s illness is far worse than the flu. Before she has time to process it, Issy is in intensive care with meningitis, and despite the family’s prayers, Issy passes away.

The rest of the book follows each member of the Bradley family as they grieve, or struggle to grieve, in their individual ways. Ian feels comforted by his faith, and his confidence that he will be reunited with his daughter in the afterlife helps him to continue with his normal life. Meanwhile, Claire cannot see a way to move on, and Zippy has to step into her mother’s shoes, cooking and cleaning while dealing with confusion over dating in a religious setting. Alma’s love of football is tainted by memories of playing with Issy, and Jacob is faithful that God will answer his prayers to bring Issy back. Each chapter follows a different family member in turn, and follows their individual storylines in conjunction with their grief for Issy.

I loved each character’s story, which I think is a rare feat in a multiple-POV narrative. I think this was assisted by the fact that each character had such a different tone. Jacob’s belief that he can resurrect Issy is a humorous break from Claire’s incredibly sorrowful chapters. Zippy and Alma are struggling with challenges outside of Issy’s death, but in fear of adding to their family’s problems, they try to deal with it themselves. Ian and Claire’s relationship is crumbling under the strain of the loss and the now evident differences in their faith. The novel is a really beautiful and moving look at how a family deals with loss, individually and as a family, coming together to put the pieces back together.

Carys Bray’s writing is simple but not basic, with the emotions that the characters feel being clear and moving. I think she was really good at giving each character a strong tone that stood out from the others. Alma is angry and resentful of the way his father’s religion has crushed his childhood dreams of being a footballer, Zippy is growing into a woman and Jacob is naive and sweet. This made it easy to deliver into the characters of the different narrators, their lives and their minds, and to really understand them.

I also found the insight into the Mormon faith and lifestyle fascinating, and the different perspectives, from those who were confident in their faith and found peace and comfort in the teachings, to those who struggled with it and those who altogether turned away from it. In my opinion, it was a delicate and subtle insight into religious life and the challenges that come with growing up and living in a religious community.

Overall, I really loved A Song for Issy Bradley and thought it was truly moving. Despite the heavy subject matter, it was not difficult to get through, and the different characters narrating the story did not confuse or distract from the story.

Book Reviews, YA Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Young Adult

Ink – Alice Broadway Review

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Rating: ★★★

You’ve probably seen this book making waves online – why? Because of the cover. It’s gorgeous. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t influence me in wanting to read this, because honestly, this is a book that I went into knowing very little about. All that I did know, was that Ink is set in a world where people’s lives are tattooed onto their skin. In this case, I feel like there isn’t really much more to know than this, because not much else actually happens – and that is my main issue with the book – there was not much there in terms of plot.

Leora Flint’s father recently died, and in accordance with the rules of their society, his skin, chronicling his life’s events, has been removed and made into a book. The pages of his life will be read by the government who will decide whether he is worthy of being remembered, or whether his book will be thrown into flames, to be forgotten forever. However, when his book is confiscated for further investigation, Leora has to deal with the fact that her father hid something from her, and that his skin is not telling the whole story.

I loved the premise of the world that Alice Broadway has created. I was really interested in the culture around the tattoos. For example, the year marks that show hold old a person it; the different tattoos that show crimes a person has committed; the family tree on everybody’s back. I loved seeing how people would come up with ways of marking important events in their life. I would have loved to have seen more detail in people’s tattoo choices, because it’s something that I find fascinating even in real life, for example, the way that Lorea’s mother’s tattoos are all floral, or how one of Lorea’s school friend’s has a previous boyfriend marked on her skin in a dominating position. I just found all of this fascinating, and the notion that you could ‘read’ who a person was and what they were like just by looking at.

On the other hand, this novel was just lacking plot in my opinion. It wasn’t necessarily boring – rather, I really quite enjoyed reading about Lorea learning about the art of tattooing, and dealing with her father’s death. However, I just didn’t get the point of the book in general because there was no clear overarching plot. The end of the novel develops so quickly that I feel like Ink as a novel would have been much better if the story had unravelled more gradually over the whole plot. Instead, for much of the book, it just felt like I was just reading Lorea’s daily life without it having any relevance. This book is an example of one of my pet peeves – it is a book that sets up a series of novels by simply setting the scene for better things to come, despite having tons of potential to be a brilliant standalone whilst also being the first part in a series.

Additionally, I think that because the plot was so weak, it made the characters very one-dimensional for most of the book. Leora makes no decisions for the majority of the book because nothing happens, and so we barely get to see her humanity, and the secondary characters were little more than plot devices. If the book had a stronger plot, all of the characters would have felt more real.

Overall, I wouldn’t say that this book was bad or even boring. I actually really enjoyed it, and I finished it in just over a day. However, just because it was easy to read it doesn’t mean that it was necessarily a fun or gripping read. I would have loved for the plot to have been stronger and interwoven throughout the novel better, but Alice Broadway’s world was interesting enough to make the book generally enjoyable.

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Book Reviews, Poetry

Depression & Other Magic Tricks – Sabrina Benaim Review

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Rating: ★★★★★

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

You may have seen Sabrina Benaim’s spoken word performance of Explaining My Depression to My Mother which at the time of writing this review has 6.9 million views on youtube. Her collection of poetry further explores mental health, love, and family and is full of similarly sharp and passionate poems.

I really adore Sabrina Benaim’s voice. I like the way that she repeats phrases and words throughout her poems, and how this reflects the way that anxious thoughts can swim around in your head, brewing and evolving as you mull them over, so that one simple thought can become, over a few lines, a complex metaphor to explain her feelings. I liked how you can’t always tell if she’s talking to herself, or to someone else, and how striking her voice is, so that you can almost hear how she would read it out loud as you read it.

Of course, Explaining My Depression To My Mother is a fantastic poem, but there were others that really stood out to me as well. The line “my heart has developed a kind of amnesia, where it remembers everything but itself” in What I Told The Doctor is beautiful, and The Loneliest Sweet Potato is a beautiful exploration of feeling lonely even though you are not, to the naked eye, ‘alone’. I loved how the poems (i) and (ii) are blended together in the later poem Avowal so that I was flicking back and forth to see how the words are intertwined to give them a whole new meaning.

I don’t read a lot of poetry, but Sabrina Benaim’s collection blew me away. I loved the simplicity of her words, the intricacy of the imagery, the strength and passion of her voice. The poems had me blinking back tears, and then chuckling moments later. I also had the great luck to be able to see Sabrina Benaim perform during her UK tour, and it is another experience I could not recommend more. She is full of emotion, and captures your attention with ease.

i forgive myself even if i am the last person i want to forgive

whatever i have come from / wherever i am going

Book Reviews, Contemporary, Historical

Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi Review

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Rating: ★★★★★

Homegoing is a breathtaking look at the effects of slavery over centuries, spanning generations and continents. It is an epic family saga containing stories of love, trauma, loss, war, and friendship. it was a beautiful and moving read, and I was very impressed at how Yaa Gyasi covered so much in terms of scope, and yet managed to make each story feel personal.

The premise of this novel is that two half-sisters, unknown to each other and who live in different villages, in eighteenth-century Ghana are thrust into different lives by chance. Effia is married to an Englishman and lives her life in the Cape Coast Castle, ignoring the slaves that are being held beneath her, destined for another life. Esi however is captured and taken to America, where she lives the difficult life of a slave. Each chapter of the novel follows a different generation in the two strands of the family, focusing in on one individual, at a significant time in their life. Effia’s descendants experience warfare between tribes in Ghana, and the fight for freedom from British rule. Esi’s descendants are bought and sold as slaves, live through the Civil War, forced labour prisons, jazz and crime.

Homegoing is a look at the history of two nations through individuals’ lives, and this is what makes it so moving. It is easy to talk of the historical and social events covered in this novel from a detached perspective without truly understanding the human impact. The main thing that struck me while reading Homegoing was that it makes it clear, in a visceral and shocking way, through the memories of the characters, how recent the events that we consider ‘history’ actually are.

I really loved the format of this novel, with each chapter following a different person. We get a snapshot of life at a particular time, band I liked the experience of becoming invested in a character over the course of their chapter and to feel invested in their story, only to have them ripped away at the end. Each chapter felt like it ended too soon, but I didn’t resent it. Rather, it felt like this served a larger purpose of giving the stories and emotions inside of them more immediacy, and it gives the book constant momentum as you are always being thrust forward. It may take getting used to, but the chapters are each so brilliantly written that you won’t struggle to get into them. The writing is also so excellent, with fire and water imagery running through the novel, and I didn’t find it difficult to follow who was who, because usually the character is introduced, at least briefly, in the previous chapter.

Overall, I really loved reading Homegoing. I loved how Yaa Gyasi wrapped up the novel in a bittersweet bow at the end, neat and tidy, but not forced or difficult to believe. When I put it down, I was left wanting aching to return to the characters and learn more about them. It gives you a lot of food for thought, and indeed left me thinking about its contents for days afterward.

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Book Reviews, Contemporary

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman Review

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Rating: ★★★★

I’ve been seeing this book everywhere for months, and was so happy that I finally got around to reading it, and I can definitely see what all of the fuss was about. Eleanor Oliphant lives a strictly regimented, monotonous, but ‘fine’ life. She has never questioned her life that consists purely of going to work, and drinking at the weekends, with nobody to talk to apart from her mother who calls her once a week, and the social workers who visit every once in a while. However, when she meets Raymond, who work in IT, and they help save the life of a stranger in the street, she begins to question her life, how she got there, and what it will take for her to get better.

I absolutely loved Eleanor’s character. She was so complex and interesting, and although she clearly suffers a great deal with trauma, anxiety issues and a lack of social skills, her voice is so unique and at times downright hilarious that it was a pleasure to read the book, even when if she is spending entire pages explaining how boring and lonely her life is. This doesn’t mean that you don’t feel bad for Eleanor. Her life is the same everyday, and she has nobody to talk to, she doesn’t even think she needs anyone to talk to, but what I liked was that even at the start of Eleanor’s story, before she sets out on her journey of recovery and self-discovery, is that there is a quiet strength to her. She has lived through horror, and now she is living through loneliness, and she deals with it in the only way that she can, which is building an armour around her. Even if we don’t relate to her specific problems and experiences, I’m sure every reader can relate to the way that Eleanor deals with her problems and anxieties, by simply ignoring them and pretending that she doesn’t need whatever she is missing out on.

I loved reading her development through relationships with people around her. Raymond was a wonderful character to read, and I loved how we see Eleanor thinking of him as nothing but a lazy, wasteful and immature man, to thinking of him as a friend and genuinely valuing him. She takes this journey with many people in her life, such as the people in her work, and so the book is a beautiful and heartbreaking exploration of Eleanor’s loneliness and the way that society plays a role in further isolating those who struggle socially, but ends with hopefulness that Eleanor can recover with the help of those around her, and lead a fulfilling and fruitful life that makes her more than ‘just fine’.

The only issues that I had with this book lay with the storyline of Eleanor trying to piece together the traumas that she experienced as a child. Without spoiling this story, the main issue that I had with this was that it only really became a plot point towards the end of the novel. Although we know from early on that Eleanor has had horrible experiences, it just isn’t a concern of hers. This is understandable from the context of her character arc, but I would have liked for there to have been hints as to what the story was, and elements of foreboding rather than simply dumping the story on us out of the blue in the final chapters of the book. In a strange sense, I felt like the book could have been even more striking if it had lacked the dramatic ‘tragic backstory’ element, as I felt a little like Honeyman shifted the story away from a character-focused story to a story that relies on shocks and plot twists to keep you hooked. By the time I found out what had happened to Eleanor, I found that I didn’t really care that much, cause I was too interested in the rest of her character.

This book made me laugh, cry, and stayed with me for long after I finished it. I found it easy to read and loved the strong voice of the main character Eleanor, and how it drove the story forward and kept me hooked.

Book Reviews, Contemporary

Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty Review

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Rating: ★★★★

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

You have probably heard about this book. There was a little tiny adaptation starring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, and so many other A-listers. It was this that brought the book to my attention, and I have been itching to read it for months. Thankfully, NetGalley offered me the opportunity to read it and post a review, so here we go. In case you want the quick version: I loved this!

Big Little Lies centres around a small coastal town where everyone knows everyone, especially the mothers at the Pirriwee Public School. Madeleine, Celeste, and Jane meet on the first day of school, where they have all dropped their children off at their first day of kindergarten. However, when they pick them up, an allegation of bullying sets off a startling chain of events that ends in tragedy. The plot is riveting, and what made it so for me was that each chapter began and ended with excerpts from interviews after a fundraiser at the school, and through these excerpts, it becomes clear that somebody has died. But who died, and how they died, remains a mystery until the very end. Although this death is not premeditated and the central storyline is much more of a ‘family drama’ novel, there are signs that the tension in Pirriwee is increasing, and the novel slowly builds suspense until the big finale, making it a truly gripping read.

I also loved the differences in the three women. Madeleine is a fun and energetic woman, with three children, who struggles with the fact that her ex-husband has moved back to town with his second wife and child, who is starting school with her own daughter. Celeste lives in a golden cage of sorts, in a marriage that she questions from the start of the book, but is admired for her beauty and wealth. Jane is new to town, a young single mother, who falls into the friendship of Madeleine and Celeste with ease. The differences in these women made the book more interesting, and I also loved that they each had their individual storylines unfolding in the background, all of which came together at the end in an explosive conclusion.

My only issues with the book lay with the ending. Don’t get me wrong, I revelled in the plot twists and the dramatic ending to the Pirriwee Public School tensions, but what I hated was the way that Liane Moriarty tried so hard to tie everything up in neat little bows after that. I would have much preferred to have a more messy, more human ending to the book. Instead, there was forced romance which was completely unnecessary, predictable, and without chemistry, and an epilogue that made me cringe with information dumps about where the characters were months later, that also simply wasn’t needed. The forced nature of the happy endings simply didn’t fit with the nature of the book, or with the characters as they had been developed over the course of the books, and was simply unrealistic to the extent that I feel like it really weakened the book overall.

Overall however, I did really enjoy this book. I couldn’t put it down, as I was hoping, and the plot and characters stayed with me after I finished reading.

 

Book Reviews, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, YA Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Young Adult

Truthwitch – Susan Dennard Review

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Rating: ★★★★★

I love fast-paced fantasy, unique magical worlds, female-led stories and friendships, so it’s no surprise to me that I absolutely loved Truthwitch! I had been waiting for months to read this book, for two reasons. First of all, my huge hardback edition is far too large to carry to and from school everyday. Secondly, I wanted to give it all of my attention, and I have no regrets (except perhaps that I should have given my full attention to my exam next week but never mind that).

The novel follows Safiya and Iseult, two witches who are trying to make a life for themselves. Safi is a Truthwitch, meaning that she can tell when someone is telling the truth, a power for which she would be hunted, so she keeps it a secret from all but those closest to her. Iseult is a Threadwitch, meaning that she can see their emotions in coloured strands that stem from them, and who these threads ‘tie’ them. The pair are Threadsisters, and when a brewing war threatens all that they hold dear – each other – they have to fight for their bond.

Safi and Iseult are both fantastic protagonists that come to life on the page and their friendship is the fire that keeps them going and that makes the story so interesting. They are lifelike, detailed and complex characters, each with their own stories, backgrounds, personalities and struggles. I loved that each character had their individual plot points, diverting for parts of the book and then rejoining, because it meant that we got to see the characters as independent women as well as a team, and understand the strength of their bond, as well as their individual motivations. This friendship was at the core of why I loved this book so much, as their friendship was so unmovable and strong that it survives all sorts of threats and dangers. Safi and Iseult are willing to sacrifice themselves for each other, and they never give up on each other, which I loved.

I also loved Susan Dennard’s magic system and all of the different witcheries. This isn’t a book where you get bogged down by details and information, and lose track of the story while trying to get to grips with the world. She makes it easy and interesting to understand, and the information that she feeds you weaves into the story so you don’t get distracted. It is so expertly crafted that it never feels forced, but rather each witchery seems to make perfect sense. I loved how despite the witches having immense powers in their fields, whether it be manipulating blood or wind or fire, their powers still had clear limitations. For example, some witches can control the air that people breathe, while others can only control the air around them in the world. Some water healers can heal by manipulating the liquids in people’s body, whilst tidewitches control the waters in the sea. It was such a diverse and complex system, but beautifully designed and wonderful to delve into. I can’t wait to see what other witcheries come up in the rest of the series, and what other aspects of the Witchlands’s history and world Susan Dennard will expose us to.

I definitely give this book 5 stars and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series. If you haven’t read it and you love fantasy novels, I could not recommend this to you more. Now excuse me, I need to order my copy of the sequel!

Book Reviews, YA Contemporary, Young Adult

Goodbye, Perfect – Sara Barnard

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Rating: ★★★★★

Eden and her best friend Bonnie are inseparable, and Eden knows that she can rely on Bonnie for anything. After all, Bonnie is pretty near perfect. However, when Bonnie runs away with a new mysterious boyfriend and it is revealed that this new boyfriend is no-one other than their music teacher, Mr Cohn, Eden has to face up to the fact that she didn’t know her friend as well as she did. Further, when a nationwide police search begins, Eden is forced to question her unfaltering loyalty to her friend.

Sara Barnard took on a really challenging topic in tackling the relationship between Bonnie and her teacher, Mr Cohn. It is a story that I have seen play out in the news multiple times, and it would have been easy for her to take a very sensationalist approach, or on the other hand, an approach that attempted to justify the relationship. Instead, she took another stance altogether and looked at the relationship through Eden’s eyes. Eden struggles throughout the book with the realisation that her friend kept a major secret from her, but also values loyalty more than anything and believes it is her duty to trust her friend when she tells her not to tell anyone where she is. Although I didn’t always like her actions, I understood Eden and her thought processes, and through reading Eden’s thoughts on Bonnie and Mr Cohn, we see her go through the different perspectives on the relationship, and come to her own conclusion by the end of the book.

I loved that female friendship took centre place in this book, and what happens when a friendship is challenged by the actions of one party. Through Eden’s difficulties in coming to terms with everything that is happening, we get to see so much of her character and personality. Her loyalty is a stand-out characteristic, and although it leads her to make not-great decisions (in my point of view), it is something that you can also admire. The journey that the friendship takes, as well as Eden’s relationships with her boyfriend, Connor, and her family, were all fascinating to read. They all had ups and downs, and every single character felt multifaceted and fleshed out to me.

Sara Barnard’s writing really helps to bring all of this to the forefront as well. It is deceptively simple, with little to no flowery language, but rather she lets the characters, their actions and thoughts speak for themselves. This book is easy to read, but not an ‘easy’ book. It challenges you with every page, and the storylines and the characters keep you hooked from start to finish.