‘”Do you ever think of just… running away?” Bonnie asked.
“Running away from what?”
“You know. Life”‘
When I was wild, you were steady . . .
Now you are wild – what am I?
Eden McKinley knows she can’t count on much in this world, but she can depend on Bonnie, her solid, steady, straight-A best friend. So it’s a bit of a surprise when Bonnie runs away with a guy Eden knows nothing about five days before the start of their GCSEs. And it’s the last person she would have expected.
Sworn to secrecy and bound by loyalty, only Eden knows Bonnie’s location, and that’s the way it has to stay. There’s no way she’s betraying her best friend. Not even when she’s faced with police questioning, suspicious parents and her own growing doubts.
As the days pass and things begin to unravel, Eden is forced to question everything she thought she knew about the world, her best friend and herself.
What I thought:
This book is about friendship and how far you are willing to go for it. Eden doesn’t think twice about making a promise to Bonnie, of course she’ll keep her best friend’s secret. But at age 16 Eden hasn’t reached the point of discovering that there are more things important than a promise or that promises should not be so easily made.
I love the fact that although there are relationship issues in this book it’s not a YA that focuses on them like so many others. It might be a relationship that causes Bonnie to run away but it’s about the strain that it puts on the friendship between the two girls. It’s hard to say that Bonnie’s relationship isn’t a central part of the book. We discover that their music teacher has been grooming her and as she is convinced that no one will understand their love the pair run away so that they can be together. But that’s the secondary plot, it’s about how Eden copes without her best friend and is pushed by others to break her secret. At 16 years old and struggling with exams the idea of breaking your friend’s confidence is unthinkable, even if you do think they’ve done something stupid. Barnard captures the intensity of teenage friendships perfectly, not in a toxic way but in the way that happens when you literally see each other almost every day. Teenage friendships are formed not in the heat of battle or in blood but in the shared childhood experiences and over time shared in boredom in a history lesson. It’s about being annoyed at the same thing and finding someone to help get you through each and every long day at school. And bond like that will take something strong to break it and even Bonnie running away with their teacher isn’t enough to begin with.
The fact that Eden and her younger sister are adopted is almost inconsequential to the plot, which is how it should be. Eden was adopted nearly 10 years ago, it’s a part of her but it’s not the only part. She’s able to think of her birth mother without anger, and with the peace that comes from time and understanding, she simply wasn’t able to cope or be a mother to her two children. The only time it’s used to help further the plot along is when it becomes clear that Eden has always imagined a barrier between herself and her older sister because of it.
Why I read it:
I pre-ordered this book as I love the authors other two books ‘The quiet kind of thunder’ and ‘beautiful broken things’. I didn’t know much about this book when I pre-ordered it preferring it to be a surprise but I knew it was about friendships.
This is a well written book about the boundaries of friendship, an honest and different look at a taboo subject such as teacher-student relationships, and the trouble it causes the people left behind. It captures how difficult and hard it can be the first time you realise that you might have to break a promise you made to keep them safe.
Would I recommend: Yes, if you enjoy realistic YA then this is one for you.
Popsugar: Local Author (Brighton), published in 2018, problem facing society today.
Read Harder: One sitting.
This was my last Feburary book. As always please let me know if you’ve read it and what you thought. My friend saw Sara Barnard at YALC last year and got my copies of her other books signed by her. I’m hoping she’ll go again this year so I can meet her too.