*Thank you to the publisher for sending me a free copy of this book. This in no way affects my opinion of the book.
A story of friendship, teenage years and a town that’s probably too small for its own good, this book follows Lorrie, unimpressed as her family move to a remote Scottish island. Thround choice or through happenstance, she becomes friends with the girl next door, Sylvie. But it doesn’t take long for her to wonder who Sylvie really is, what gift she’s hiding. and if she wants to be friends with her after all…
This book captured my attention from the very first chapter. Set on a remote Scottish island where everyone knows everyone else’s business, any hint at something strange seems unnatural. How can there be something hidden amongst this society, where there’s very little room for secrets? And yet there’s something odd about Sylvie, something that goes beyond her shy persona. It’s alluded to in a quiet way, so you’re never really too sure if Sylvie’s supposed “strangeness” is down to a hidden, repressed gift or if it’s instead just the unfair judgement of teenage society. What I loved though is how you would almost be lulled into a sense of normality – you’d become so caught up with the everyday life and gossip of these characters – before the book would once again allude to something odd. My back would prickle with awareness and wonder, wanting to know more and dig into Sylvie’s story, but the people surrounding her seemed almost oppressive, blocking the full story I so desperately wanted to uncover. It kept me turning the pages, needing to find out as much as possible.
It definitely felt strange, having a page-turner of a book when reading about everyday lives. But I suppose that’s the lure of a small society like this – it’s easy to get caught up in everyone’s stories. Being set in the 1950’s, I loved reading about the problems that came up…and how dark/serious they could get. Between maintaining polite relationships with nosy neighbours and serious accusations that would impact someone’s entire life, so much is packed into this li’l story, and every moment of it fascinated me.
This book switches between the narratives of Lorrie and Sylvie, each one having its own unique “thing”. Lorrie would introduce people to the story by analysing them, breaking down their personality into associated scents, tastes and appearances. At first this was a little jarring, cutting away from the story to analyse a person. But I soon fell in love with these sections. Sure, it sounds like an odd thing to do at first, but you learn a lot more about a person by the memories and events associated with them, which is where the scents/tastes/sights mentioned above stem from. It felt like a more effective way of getting to know a character quickly, rather than simply being told “this is their personality and this is how they act”. As for Sylvie’s narrative, she often writes as if answering a written question for class. It would be something random such as “what do your hobbies include?”, but you’d see her answer, her mindset, everything she thinks of her current situation and everything she hopes for…and then you’d see the answer she gives to other people. You see her true self vs her appearance, and how much she changes about herself to fit in.
In this slow and subtle way, Sylvie caught my heart. It went out to her constantly, because although this is a story of friendship, it very much shows the rocky side of such things. I felt her loneliness and despaired at her desire to fit in. I wanted so much for her. I wanted to protect her, to be her friend. I wanted her to reach her full potential and learn to love herself. Even for Lorrie, I wanted to shake her and show her that fitting in isn’t always the best option. I wanted to give her the confidence to stand up to people, to think for herself, to be unashamed and accepting. Something about these two girls just clicked with me, and they took up everything in me. And so when I finished this book, I was speechless. I had so many feelings. And I know this story will stay with me for awhile.
Rated 4.5/5 stars
*Thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book. This in no way affects my opinion of the book.
Until next time,