★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
(It seems only fitting this review gets posted whilst I’m in Edinburgh myself…)
My opinion in three sentences:
Until this book, I had no idea how freeing a novel could be when you could connect with it on so many levels. On the whole, Barnard’s characterization was eerily realistic, and the writing style (whilst not fancy or exotic) was well-suited to the setting, characters and plot. Edinburgh, arguably the plot’s climax, was where my uncertainty crept in, as suddenly the characters’ development accelerated tenfold and everything became convenient rather than realistic – kind of a letdown when the first half had been so great.
(Without spoiling anything) the best bit:
I don’t know if I’ve ever been able to relate to a book more. Barnard’s characterization of Steffi was incredible (at least for the first half), the situations were so vibrant and real, and the perspectives portrayed were stellar. Being able to relate, on so many levels, to the novel was a real joy and an utterly freeing and revelationary experience.
A warning for the book:
The Edinburgh Escapades (as I think the safest, non-spoiler way to call them is) felt a little too out of character for me. Sure, Steffi and Rhys are developing as characters, and they have a really strong relationship, but some of what happens in Scotland would require a bit more thinking through from them both (particularly as only a few months prior, Steffi was terrified of, and initially unable to, even walk into the sixth form common room). From such relatable characters, perspectives and events, to switch abruptly to such a plot point was a huge letdown – hence the four star rating when at first it had been an eye-opening piece of work.
Recommended for fans of:
- Nick & Charlie by Alice Oseman
- When We Collided by Emery Lord
- The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli