Every six months or so I seem to find a reason to resurrect this slowly-dying blog. You’ll be glad (or not) to hear that I seem to have found another. This time it’s all down to the Curtis Brown Book club – a lovely little idea which provides chosen members with the latest books before they come out, chats with the authors, and forums in which fellow book clubbers can discuss what they’re reading.
The first ‘Book of the Month’ in this six month series is Summer of Secrets by Sarah Jasmon.
Now – I should probably start by telling you that I’ve met Sarah on a few occasions. We both volunteer for the Manchester Literature Festival and every time our paths have crossed we’ve discussed our works in progress. So it’s good to see that one of us has moved past that ‘progress’ part of our novel and put some words down in print. Nice one Sarah, I’m not jealous at all.
To the book – I must admit that this one kind of took me by surprise. Happy as I was for Sarah, from the cover and the blurb I was unsure that this going to be my cup of tea. It’s seems to have a lot of potential as a kind of summer blockbuster, with mystery, coming of age, and young relationships all at its core. That’s not always my thing.
But what I found was a work of fiction that spends a long time developing its characters, creating a small cast that you really care about. So when the mystery becomes a little heavily laden, it still works because you are really invested in the people trying to find a way to the truth.
The story spends most of its time in the summer of 83, during which Helen, a lonely and isolated teenager, finds a new lease of life when the Dover family arrive in her sleepy little town. Throughout the book we know that somehow this new friendship will end in tragedy – that is forewarned by the flash forward at the novel’s beginning – but to find out exactly how, we find ourselves weaving through a very well written tale of teenage life.
It’s hard to say too much about this one without giving too much away – suffice to say that, for what seems at first like a standard summer read, there is an inviting depth to the narrative that will keep you turning the page.