One of the many authors, publishers and book PRs I follow on twitter is Isabel Ashdown, and I was lucky enough a week or so ago to win copies of both her debut novel, the award winning Glasshopper, and her forthcoming book, Hurry Up and Wait
Synopsis: It’s more than twenty years since Sarah Ribbons last set foot inside her old high school, a crumbling Victorian-built comprehensive on the south coast of England. Now, as she prepares for her school reunion, 39-year-old Sarah has to face up to the truth of what really happened back in the summer of 1986.
My review: I was quite excited to pick this up to read – I’ve seen a lot of buzz about Glasshopper on twitter, and had it recommended to me by lots of friends, and I hadn’t realised when I won the two books that Hurry up and Wait isn’t actually released til June. It was only when Isabel mentioned on twitter that I would be one of the early readers that I clicked as to what I had in my hands, and I was determined to get stuck in quickly.
So when I picked it up and realised first of all that it’s written in the present tense, and secondly that it slips between times, I was slightly disappointed. These are two signs that usually to me indicate books I’m not going to enjoy. Nevertheless, I read on, wanting to give it a good go.
It turned out to be no effort at all. Despite, or perhaps because of, the present tense writing, it became so easy to slip into the story, and be immersed in a time that should be utterly familiar to me. I too was a teenager in the mid 80s – I’m just a year younger than the main protaganist, Sarah Ribbon. But the life she is leading is very far removed from mine – I had a terribly sheltered life attending a private girls’ school miles from home and barely noticed the existence of boys given I had a horse instead. Despite this, the book is utterly authentic, with references to fashion and music that took me instantly back to my own teenage days, staring at the in-crowd from the outskirts.
As I read, I identified with Sarah, who becomes a real girl going through some very real things. She hasn’t only got school and boys to cope with – her mother died when she was little and her father is not well. As the story built to a climax, I was a little afraid that I’d spotted what was going to happen before I got there, but Isabel stays away from any obvious or cliched endings and wraps her story up beautifully without any incongruities or contrivances. For an afternoon I was transported to the 1980s – and I don’t regret missing the grittier side of it first time around one little bit. Once you pick this up, you aren’t going to want to put it down – I can completely see why she is an award winning author, and I’m looking forward to reading Glasshopper very soon as well.
Hurry Up and Wait is published on 16 June 2011 and available for pre-order on Amazon in paperback or for Kindle now.
I’m counting this as one of my 100 books, mainly because I’m desperate to finish this challenge now. This was book 76
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