Kate Le Vann – Things I Know About Love
Eeep, a tear-jerker. Livia’s spending the summer with her brother in the States and meets the lovely Adam – someone who might just repair her broken heart and show her what real love is. Gorgeously written – love the voice and the details – but, yes, tear-jerker.
Popular – Gareth Russell
If Ryan Murphy and Cecily von Ziegesar had a baby, then immersed it thoroughly in the nuances of Belfast life, this would be what you’d get. The novel focuses on the popular crowd and the borderline-sociopathic behaviour used to manipulate situations and to, well, be fabulous. The proportion of zappy, often bitchy one-liners per page is impressive, and (as I have been squeeing about on twitter), it also wins bonus points for featuring LGBT characters and acknowledging bisexuality exists. Ooh, and for sneaky historical references (Meredith being compared to Elizabeth I – marvellous).
Adam Gidwitz – A Tale Dark and Grimm
Oh. This is genius. Lots of Grimm fairy tales woven in together cleverly, with Hansel and Gretel at the centre of it. So much fun (and lots of gory bits), and yet moving and wise at the same time. A must-read for anyone into their fairy tales.
Cat Clarke – Torn
Cat Clarke’s second book is just as fast-paced, compulsively readable and authentically teenage (especially the nastiness) as her first. Maybe more so. Alice is not a total outcast, but not popular – not like bitchy Tara, who she was friends with once upon a time. On a school trip, Alice ends up in a cabin with four others: her best friend, a social climber who hates Tara, a music-addicted emo girl, and Tara herself. When they decide to teach Tara a lesson, things go Horribly Wrong. It’s what happens afterwards – at school, amongst the girls, and with Tara’s brother Jack – that the book is mostly concerned with. While the plotline in some ways does what you expect (there is horrible guilt that can only be borne for so long!), it twists and turns in other ways. Well worth checking out.
Mary McEvoy – How The Light Gets In
For most Irish people Mary McEvoy will forever be Biddy in Glenroe, although I remember her much more vividly from her performance in Dublin’s first performance of The Vagina Monologues – I still remember some of her intonations and gestures. Whereas my recollections of her in Glenroe are nothing but a series of big knitted jumpers. Anyway. McEvoy has spoken openly about her struggles with depression throughout her adult life, and in this book she shares her thoughts and coping mechanisms. It’s part memoir, part self-help, and occasionally preachy (though usually about areas other than mental health) but mostly very useful and wise. Lots of Buddhism and quotes and an emphasis on living with rather than curing depression. (It’s also interesting from a social history point of view, with snippets about the theatre and TV world in Ireland before the Celtic Tiger.)