Yesterday was a fab Valentines. It’s not something my husband and I usually celebrate because over the years working with four children, three dogs and three cats we were always too exhausted. But the children are grown and my son’s girlfriend bought us afternoon tea for Christmas and immediately I booked it for Valentines.
It did not disappoint: cappuccino, mini banoffee tart, chocolate mousse, pear cake, quiche and tiny hot toasties. Umm delicious…And among them Random Attachment.
My book has given my husband and I lots to chat about; like all writers the dream of a bestseller lingers in the air. It’s probably a bit weird bringing my book with me when I go out; which is rare due to my condition. I sound like an old car; one with a blown engine. I like including it in my little excursions, finding photo opportunities. Letting readers know a bril YA awaits https://www.amazon.co.uk/RANDOM-ATTACHMENT-Gertrude-T-Kitty/dp/1790375347/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1550235599&sr=8-2&keywords=random+attachment
When I was twelve (forty years ago) I was already searching for that Disney magic; that charging hero with shoulders wider than a cinema screen. I was very much a child, not sassy or wise like pre teens are now. So much has changed in my lifetime, not just technology but identity and love.
I would have adored Skin Deep by Laura Jarratt when I was twelve; I loved reading it yesterday. This would be soft porn when I was twelve; easily a bestseller and like Grease the talk of the playground. I remember being madder than hell (internally – no way would my mum tolerate any expressions of anger) when she said I was too young to see Grease. Everyone was talking about the cinema scene and it was the first time I considered lying and seeing it secretly.
Now I’m the mum. This is not a criticism because the intimacy between Jenna and Ryan was mutual, tender, romantic. I’ve no doubt they were in love; it’s the sort of first love you hope for your daughters. Not the – flash in the pan I’ve had my way with you love. Or the – you’re not going out with friends because I own you love. Still…I can’t help wishing she were a year older. One might say what’s in a year but a lot at that age. If I was Ryan’s mum I’d be terrified he’d engage in a sexual relationship with Jenna because legally she’s under 16. If it ended badly there could be legal ramifications. I know it’s only fiction and the fact that I’m worried is because Lisa creatively formed real characters.
I think if Ryan was a nerd and not girl savy the age gap wouldn’t bother me but Ryan at sixteen is a young adult, he’s sexually active; Sadie wasn’t his first.
“That was the thing about the girls who chased me. They lived in their own little worlds in their heads. They made their own realities and I was just there to make them feel good. It didn’t bother me. I never got attached. It was just sex.”
He’s shaving, working, responsible for his mum. He’s functioning as an adult although his language and emotional struggles reflect he’s still young and needs supports.
But maybe his maturity is what led to his friendship with Jenna which blossomed into love…and if any girl needed to see herself reflected as desirable in a boy’s eyes…it’s Jenna that it’s now. We can’t always empower ourselves; sometimes we need to be told you’re beautiful.
I don’t want to get into the age thing deeply.
A quick music interval to put my one concern aside. Fav song at the moment is My Ye Is Different by OSH a Brit rapper from Croydon. I love the accent; it’s gritty and feels like home.
Back to Skin Deep. Firstly I love the novel’s Britishness; I’ve read so many American romances that sporadically I need a taste of England. I think Skin Deep is on par with my favourite YA American writer; Courtney Summers.
Laura Jarratt’s timing gently moves the romance along and I was engrossed in Jenna and Ryan’s lives and relationships. All the characters were relevant and I was glad the attack was a sub plot and not some – did he do it? dilemma because the warmth and trust between Jenna and Ryan would be compromised.
This novel is easily a one sit read; other than a dash to the kitchen for a cuppa and a walnut whip. I know what you’re thinking – she ate all that and still needed a walnut whip? D’on’t judge. I was not going to bed till I’d had my Valentine Disney moment when true love wins out and that required chocolate.
The line in the book that resonated with me the most was:
“I felt guilty for feeling suffocated again, but I hugged her back because I loved her. And I didn’t understand how those two feelings could sit in a person side my side.”
Because it mirrors a line in Random Attachment:
“Joslyn sat on her throne at the kitchen table, carmen rollers in, plucking her eyebrows. Noting the empty bottle Mia tensed, her mum had stolen Jesus’ miracle and turned rent money into wine again. Mia’s anger tasted all the more bitter because she had to swallow it. How do you tell your mum you love her but you hate her more.“
In one way I want to dislike this book (professional jealousy; a mild form). Electric Monkey (Egmont) passed on my novel The Rebirth of Henry Whittle, three years ago. The feedback was great:
“Henry Whittle, I think, is one of the most distinct novels I have read in some time and really enjoyed the noir Mean Girls element to if. For me it felt a little too adult focused…”
My novels are hard to place; I see that. Why? Because they’re books aimed at older YA readers 14+ and have crossover to women’s fiction but the voice is very much YA/NA. My books are contemporary romance; the characters do make love. There is a criminal sub plot so there’s violent content. And no matter how much publishers say they like the premise, the characters, the writing, they are uneasy with some of the content. So I self publish; that way it’s the story I want to tell, written the way I write.
So I’ve had an agent, I had my book edited, I’ve been passed over and that makes me even pickier. A novel needs to be better than mine for me to appreciate it so credit to Laura Jarratt…Skin Deep is a top teen read and so even though my blood pumps green envy it’s a
5 out of 5 ♥♥♥♥♥
I must make one last point. I’ve read two cracking adult thrillers recently Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear and Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell. Two great reads, both books I’d recommend though I didn’t award full stars. I read across all genres even Andy McNab; I don’t have a rating guide, I simply tell you how I feel at the time I read the book.
Sending hugs to anyone who needs them xxxx