Sunday, 9 August 2015

The Summer of Secrets by Sarah Jasmon

The Summer of Secrets
By Sarah Jasmon
Published by Black Swan (13 August 2015)
ISBN: 978-0552779975

Publisher's description
The summer the Dovers move in next door, sixteen-year-old Helen's lonely world is at once a more thrilling place. She is infatuated with the bohemian family, especially the petulant and charming daughter Victoria.
As the long, hot days stretch out in front of them, Helen and Victoria grow inseparable. But when a stranger appears, Helen begins to question whether the secretive Dover family are really what they seem.
It’s the kind of summer when anything seems possible…
Until something goes wrong.

My verdict
The Summer of Secrets is a beautifully-written coming-of-age novel, with vivid poetic descriptions of river life and teenage summers.

Helen's mother abandoned the family home, leaving Helen with her unhappy volatile father, who spends more time on his boat than with her. It's 1983. And with no school friends or other family locally, 16-year-old Helen plans to spend her summer as usual, on her own by the side of the river. But everything changes when the Dover family move into a house nearby.

Helen becomes intrigued by carefree Victoria, her older brother Seth and their troublesome twin siblings. Helen loves the Dover family's bohemian lifestyle and seemingly exotic and mysterious past. The family provides a complete contrast to Helen's mundane life. Helen and Victoria become unlikely best friends, filling their hot summer days with mischief and laughter and sharing their secrets.

But something happens that summer and the Dover family vanishes suddenly without a trace. Helen doesn't know why, and the 'not-knowing' affects the rest of her life. When a chance meeting 30 years later leads Helen to bump into Victoria again, the past comes back to haunt her. And her memories return.

I didn't want this book to end. The characters were delightfully flawed and the story was highly compelling, with many revelations revealed along the way. The book took me back several years to my teenage summers, providing a perfect read for a summer afternoon.

I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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