I tried really hard to think of a witty title to summarise what these books have in common but “finding romance in dark times” didn’t have a ring to it, so here we are with mini reviews of four of my recent reads.
Flying Tips for Flightless Birds by Kelly McCaughrain
Birdie and Finch are twins, and they are incredibly close. They do everything together, even working as trapeze artists in the family circus. I knew very little about life behind the scenes at a circus, but the blog entries throughout the story (written by Birdie) gave a great insight into the circus life. I loved the circus setting of this novel. Outside of their circus life, Birdie and Finch are considered “freaks”; they have an unusual style and are not at all popular at school, but they don’t really care. This was my favourite thing about this book: it showed that it’s okay to be unique. It also shows that letting people in isn’t always a bad thing, when Hector comes to the school and decides to befriend Birdie and Finch. Finch is reluctant at first, but agrees to teach Hector circus skills in exchange for help with his school work, and something truly beautiful comes from this. When Birdie falls and ends up in a coma, Finch is forced to question everything he knows, and he will need all the friendship and support he can get.
All the Invisible Things by Orlagh Collins*
Helvetica (yes, she is named after the font and yes, she hates it) is going through a really tough time. She is grieving for her mum, trying to be a good mother-figure to her sister whilst trying to figure out who she is and struggling with her confused sexuality. That’s already a lot for one person, but when she moves back to her old home, she also has to face up to someone she left behind: her best friend Pez. They haven’t spoken since she left and he isn’t overjoyed to see her again. Pez has his own issues with his family, his girlfriend and something he’s being really secretive about. Things are awkward and strained between the two of them, and the main part of the story is them fighting to keep their friendship. It’s not easy though, they both have very different personalities and they struggle to be around each other at times. Neither of them is entirely likeable either (there were definitely times I wanted to yell at them both), but some friendships are worth fighting for, and I was definitely rooting for them to succeed.
The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord
Paige’s first boyfriend, Aaron, died in a tragic drowning accident a year ago. They’d only be together for a couple of months, but Paige has been in hiding for the last year. She feels guilty every time she tries to live her life, every time she laughs or enjoys something, it is twisted with guilt that Aaron will never have that. She’s finally feeling ready to move on. So, as every sensible girl would, she makes a list of things she’s going to do to get herself back out there: get Ryan (her crush) to go out with her, join a club… but she’s about to learn that living isn’t as simple as ticking things off a list. The club she joins is the Quiz Bowl, where she meets Ryan’s cousin, Max and sees a way to get her crush to notice her. She’s not expecting the friendship that comes from meeting Max, for Max to become the person that she confides in and who starts to know her better than anyone else. This was a great story about complicated teen friendships, love, and finding your place in the world.
How Hard Can Love Be? by Holly Bourne
I read and loved Am I Normal Yet? which was the first in this trilogy AGES ago. This second book in the Spinster Club series is told from Amber’s perspective. Amber is off to a camp in America to spend some time with her mum. Their relationship is strained; her mum is a recovering alcoholic who left her and now lives with her second husband (Kevin). Oh, and Amber wasn’t invited to the wedding, so she’s angry. They have a lot to work on if they’re going to salvage a relationship, but something is always getting in the way. I empathised with Amber a lot in this book. Her mum and stepdad made me really cross, I wish I could say I understood the mum’s point of view, but that’s a no from me. In addition to this, Amber is also falling for fellow camp leader, Kyle. But is there any point starting a romance that’ll have to end when she flies home? The Spinster Club are on hand to offer her some…interesting advice. This is a brilliant follow up to Am I Normal Yet? and I’m really looking forward to reading the third in the series now.
And that’s it for another edition of Mini Reviews. Have you read any of these books? Can you recommend me any books with similar themes?
* Received from the publisher in exchange for a fair and and honest review. This does not affect my opinions in any way.