Posted in Books I have read

My Sunshine Away – Milton O’Neal Walsh

Contemporary Fiction 5*s
Contemporary Fiction
5*s

This is an insightful novel, one that tells the story of a young girl’s rape and the way the boy from across the street wanted to help, because he loved her.

I really didn’t know quite what to expect from the synopsis of this one, it wasn’t what I got which was a far more thoughtful and measured piece of writing than the mystery story that was promised, but do you know what, it didn’t really matter who did what because this was about an act that changed everyone’s perceptions of Piney Creek Road in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. And through it all Lindy, who had been raped, and the teenage boy across the road finished the process of growing up with the weight of the unsolved crime hanging over their heads.

In many ways this is a ‘coming of age’ novel with a mystery thrown in a book where the memories of our narrator roll off each and every page, written from a time in the future and looking back at the events that shaped his life, and the girl that he loved. The neighbourhood is full of characters including an adopted former foster-child who was wild and got expelled from Perkins High, the local school, the arty girl Julie and the other temporary foster children who joined the gang making beds out of moss and then disappeared almost unnoticed.

Starting in the late 80s this is a book looking back through time to the boy our narrator was and how that shaped the man he became. There is a strong theme of memories; what we remember and what we repress, how we use some memories to our advantage and some to our detriment. Our narrator has fond memories of being a young child and more diffident ones as he begins to grow up and falls in love with the unattainable Lindy. The school scenes in particular will ring true to anyone who attended around this period with a particularly poignant episode of watching the Challenger disaster in January 1986, after months of project work on space the pupils gathered to watch… The allegiances formed during those years, the things that people do to be popular, the way that we interact with our parents, I’m sure will resonate on a level with most readers, it certainly made me reflect on comparable incidents.

This was a touching book, one that brought a tear to my eye more than once, and I’m a tough cookie and not prone to such behaviour as a rule. The affection I felt for the narrator was immense despite knowing that he was one of the four suspects in Lindy’s rape. No that isn’t a spoiler, you get the information on the very first page. And so as I read I wondered, could it be true? This added an unsettling quality to my read where sympathy coincided with suspicion.

So back in the first paragraph I said I didn’t know what to expect, at the end I know that this is one of those books that won’t be forgotten. Not just because it is quite different to my normal reads, far more reflective and with far less action but because it was a book that touched my heart, made me reflect and in short is an outstanding debut.

I’d like to thank the publishers Penguin Books UK who kindly allowed me a chance to read a copy of this book ahead of publication on 2 July 2015.

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week In Books (June 24)

This Week In Books

Hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

I have just started First One Missing by Tammy Cohen .

First One Missing

Blurb

There are three things no-one can prepare you for when your daughter is murdered:
– You are haunted by her memory day and night
– Even close friends can’t understand what you are going through.
– Only in a group with mothers of other victims can you find real comfort.
But as the bereaved parents gather to offer support in the wake of another killing, a crack appears in the group that threatens to rock their lives all over again.
Welcome to the club no one wants to join. NetGalley

 

I have just finished reading Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff which was an unusual read and I seem to fall into the middle ground; I didn’t hate it but I have to admit to skipping some parts, which I rarely do so I didn’t love it either.

Fates and Furies

You can read the blurb and opening paragraph in yesterday’s post.

My review will be posted shortly

Next I plan to read My Sunshine Away by Milton O’Neal Walsh

my sunshine away

Blurb

Welcome to Woodland Hills, Louisiana: a place of lush, sweltering summers, neighbourhood cookouts in every backyard and vats of chilled beer under the crepe myrtles. A terrible crime is just about to take place…
One day Lindy Simpson cycles home from school and straight into a trap: someone is lying in wait for her, a wire strung between lampposts blocking the path. She is raped just yards from her front door. No one sees a thing and the perpetrator is not caught.
Her fourteen year old neighbour has cherished a crush on Lindy, the ultimate girl next door, since they were kids. After her assault he becomes determined to solve the crime, investigating each suspect in the neighbourhood. But before this long, hot summer is out, it will become clear that the friendly community of Woodland Hills has much to hide. Behind every white picket fence in suburbia lies a tangled web of darkness. In his zeal to solve the mystery, the teenage detective stumbles across a sinister world he doesn’t recognise, drawing ever closer to a terrifying denouement. NetGalley

What have you found to read this week?

See what I’ve been reading in 2015 here