Genre: YA, contemporary
Publication Date: February 25th 2016 by Macmillan Children’s Books
Format: eARC from Pan Macmillan via Netgalley
Best friends Caddy and Rosie are inseparable. Their differences have brought them closer, but as she turns sixteen Caddy begins to wish she could be a bit more like Rosie – confident, funny and interesting. Then Suzanne comes into their lives: beautiful, damaged, exciting and mysterious, and things get a whole lot more complicated. As Suzanne’s past is revealed and her present begins to unravel, Caddy begins to see how much fun a little trouble can be. But the course of both friendship and recovery is rougher than either girl realises, and Caddy is about to learn that downward spirals have a momentum of their own.
I really enjoyed this book, I’m saying it now. I’ve since read Sara Barnard’s second book and loved that probably even more. It focuses on friendship and trauma and family and it really was a great read. Not that it doesn’t have problems, but it was really difficult to put down.
The principle problem I had with this book was Caddy. Honestly, this would probably have been a five star book without her. I understand unlikeable characters, such as Suzanne’s aunt (others may disagree with me here but her seeing Suzanne as a burden was just cruel after all she’d been through), but Caddy was ridiculous in some parts. She’s jealous of her best friend Rosie and her sister Tarin because her Rosie lost her baby sister when she was younger and Tarin is bipolar. I just cannot fathom how someone can be jealous of either of these things – she wants to be interesting, fine, but does she honestly want either of these things to happen to her? Really?!
Caddy is just selfish and shallow, she provokes Suzanne despite having researched what triggers mean and knowing that she will hurt her. I know there are people in the world who would act that way but I’d bet that they’re in general not nice people, but Caddy is portrayed throughout as a decent human being. It’s kind of confusing. Basically she’s jealous of Suzanne, jealous that Rosie has a new friend, jealous that Suzanne has had something happen to her in her life, regardless of the pain and upheaval it has resulted in. In short, she’s just jealous.
On the other hand, I loved the characters of Rosie and Suzanne, the latter in particular. Suzanne’s story was heartbreaking and painful and about recovery and it was so much more interesting that the main storyline. (Caddy’s life goal was to get a boyfriend. No, she’s not twelve). Rosie was a great character too, a little simple at times, but I felt that it was just the way she is; seeing the good in everything and wanting to do the best for everyone.
So much was happening in this book, with everything linking in places, but I found that I didn’t get confused. Barnard is such a wonderful writer and it was such a compelling read – I just wanted to read on and on and on, regardless of whatever stupid thing Caddy said or thought. It was genuinely such an enjoyable book and I was dragged in by the plot and its fast pace. I’d highly recommend this to any lover of contemporary YA, and Barnard has definitely become an auto-buy author.
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars.