I was a real fan of Jenny Downham’s previous book ‘Before I Die’ and was quite surprised because the subject matter was quite hard going and a real tear jerker of a tale and normally I wouldn’t find myself drawn to these kinds of stories. It was a fabulous book and so seeing this next book I was very excited to see what subject she tackles and read more of the great fiction. Plus it was recommended to me by many other bloggers so I knew it had to be worth my time. The story revolves around two families from the point of view of Mikey McKenzie and Eleanor Parker and how their lives have been twinned together because Mikey’s sister, Karyn, has accused Ellie’s brother, Tom, of rape and sexual assault.
It’s a raw and hard telling of how lives are twisted and torn apart by this awful crime and the aftermath of an accession. The main trouble is the doubt involved as its Karyn’s word against Tom and with his wealthy family behind him and Karyn’s low class troubled background the twists and turns become hard to deal with. The truth is hard to find in murky waters.
This is not something younger readers may be able to deal with emotional but when the age and time is right it truly is a book I’d encourage every teen should read. It shows you how actions have consequences and that some things aren’t black and white in a world full of grey. The dark waters get even more troublesome when Mikey and Ellie stumble into a strange friendship and possibly more in Mikey pursuit of revenge on Tom. He see’s Tom having an easy life and little fallout from the accusation and Karyn can’t even face stepping outside the flat.
It is tenderly told and Jenny Downham really does handle all the characters with such care and attention that this sort of issue requires. I couldn’t put this book down even in this mini heat wave that we’re having in the UK and I stayed indoors feeling the wind, rain and heartache. “You want this to be a love story” and this quote couldn’t be any truer. All you want is for some justice and peace for all these characters. They are hurting and when some find a few brief moments of happiness and escape you just wish it could last. Jenny Downham has a wonderful way of picking up on the details and small moments inside the big picture to give a sense of time, space and realism. Even when things are ‘heavy’ she reminds you of the colour of the sky or the simple delight of eating something sweet.
I loved this book and think it’s really opened up my eyes to trying out new types of books and genres and I’d say that if you want to take a risk with a new strand in the world of the YA books then this is a perfect example. Some of the details and situations are hard to handle but it’s worth the journey for the superbly told story about real situations that happen all too often.