‘I climb up and lean over the ferry rail, looking down at the grim, grey sea. I’ve ruined everything’
The summer between school and sixth-form. When Hope doesn’t get into drama college, and her friends do, all her plans fall apart. She’s struggling with anger, grief for her father and a sense that her own body is against her. She meets Riley on the ferry and his texts give her someone to talk to.
What I thought:
I really enjoyed the premise of this book, working out what to do with the rest of your life age 17 is hard. Everyone expects you to have a plan, and when you have a plan and that plan falls through? Having to work out a plan B is difficult anyway. Having to work it out when everyone ‘knows’ you are going to ‘make it’? I can’t imagine. Or rather I can and it fills me with anxiety inducing nightmares. And Rhian Ivory writes it so well, that all inducing fear, the feel of your stomach dropping, and your whole world being turned on its axis. While reading I could feel all of that. Which is always impressive. The fact that it happens off screen before the book even starts? Damn.
It opens with Hope screaming at the ocean trying to work out where it went wrong and what to do next. And the worst part for her is she honestly doesn’t fully remember or understand what happened at the audition. She remembers walking onto the stage and saying her name, and then the moments after it. That blank in her memory is almost worse than knowing what happened. By only knowing ‘something’ happens and not what brings out so many more possibilities. It could be almost literally anything. And she is left alone with her imagination, anxiety, fear, self-loathing, and failure to try and work out what happened.
What I loved about the way this was written is it wasn’t shrugged off. It can be very easy for people to say “There’s nothing you can do now, so work out how to fix it, or work out what to do now”. And that never helps. I mean it NEVER helps. I can sympathise with Hope as I failed my A-Levels/got massively lower grades than expected and within an hour of receiving the grades I had to be on the phone begging other universities to accept me. I’m all for working out the next step but you need time to process and that time is not normally offered. And at no point in this book did it get shrugged off, Hope does have to work out what the next step and can’t stay in denial no matter how hard she tries. But her pain is acknowledged. And you can’t understate just how important that acknowledgement is. No one can help with the pain apart from be there and give the person time to process it.
The other big pull, and apologies to any blokes here, is there are actual discussions about periods. This is a book about a teenage girl and (shock, horror) she has a period once a month. Because women do actually talk about these things.
What I loved about how this was dealt with was not only was it discussed but Hope knows that her period really screwed her over and yet didn’t want to talk to anyone about it. Because actually talking about it is just not a thing that people do. And because she refused to talk about, Hope internalised everything as ‘normal’ and didn’t want to go to the GPs. Which is a thing. If things are a taboo, even talking to medical professionals about it is difficult.
I loved the way that because Hope doesn’t talk about it she believes that everyone suffers the same amount as her. It’s the difference between suffering really bad periods and not being able to cope with them. It’s a subtle shift but a really important one as it takes the blame away from the person. It’s only when opening up and talking about it that you are able to realise where the problem is. But also that a problem exists.
This book also deals with grief realistically. In the sense that all of Hope’s family are dealing with the loss of her father but they are all doing it in different ways. And Hope doesn’t want to talk about it in front of her mum because she doesn’t want her mum to feel bad about it.
In the same way as ‘Emergency Contact’ Hope finds talking to Riley because she doesn’t know him. By talking to him she doesn’t have to worry about weighing him down with her problems as well as his own. He’s able to understand the pain of having to work out a Plan B and the two grow to rely on each other even though Hope didn’t originally want anything to do with him. She learns to talk to him about her dad and about how she feels useless due to not passing the audition. The fact that he walked in on her screaming at the sea on the ferry helped break the tension.
Why I read it:
I picked this one up because I was talking to Rhian Ivory at #UKYAchat one week where she was the guest author. The whole chat was about taboos in fiction and in real life and there was a bunch of us who ended up talking about sex ed in primary school and how it’s taught from a young age that periods should not be discussed in front of boys
I really enjoyed reading this one. It dealt with a couple is issues that are not normally discussed (the fact that you can work your hardest and still fail) as well as periods. It’s a beautiful story about failure, grief, and learning how to get back up again as well as asking for help where needed.
Would I recommend? Yes. This is one I’ve already given to friends as a birthday present
PopSugar: About death/grief, about mental health, book borrowed/given as a gift, published in 2018, problem facing society today.
This book is proof that UKYAchat is one of the best parts of my week and that it’s really worth joining in. If it wasn’t for that chat I wouldn’t have picked up this book. Every week I take part and I end up with a handful more books on the TBR.
There are two weeks left till YALC and I can’t wait. I’m reading lots of books in the lead up and can’t wait to meet people I’ve been talking to but also running around and having fun with books.
If you’re going to be there, let me know and come and say hi.
P.S The next book is ‘Resistance’ by Josephine Boyce