Man, oh man. GO AND READ THIS BOOK.
What if everything you set yourself up to be was wrong?
Frances has always been a study machine with one goal, elite university. Nothing will stand in her way; not friends, not a guilty secret – not even the person she is on the inside.
But when Frances meets Aled, the shy genius behind her favourite podcast, she discovers a new freedom. He unlocks the door to Real Frances and for the first time she experiences true friendship, unafraid to be herself. Then the podcast goes viral and the fragile trust between them is broken.
Caught between who she was and who she longs to be, Frances’ dreams come crashing down. Suffocating with guilt, she knows that she has to confront her past…
She has to confess why Carys disappeared…
Meanwhile at uni, Aled is alone, fighting even darker secrets.
It’s only by facing up to your fears that you can overcome them. And it’s only by being your true self that you can find happiness.
Frances is going to need every bit of courage she has.
I started this one morning on the bus to work, and by the time I was reaching town I was 13% of the way through, and had so many feelings already about it that I had to jot some stuff down. This is what I wrote:
‘I am 13% through this book and I only started it half an hour ago on the bus and I am so close to crying very sad tears literally minutes before I go into work. And it’s not sad. There has been no tragedy, or death, or heartache, but there has been some strained friendships and subtle loneliness that has hit just too close to home for me to be okay about. I know 100% how it feels to have friends, or at least have a friendship group, and not really be super close to them, or have them not know you as you really are. And as I read this I’m stressing about a friendship outing tomorrow night with people I don’t really like but can’t cut off cause then I’d have no friends at all, and they haven’t actually done anything bad to me. I just feel like I don’t know them anymore.’
I adored this book. It follows Frances as she navigates her last year of school while making new friends, trying to get into her dream university, and delving into a fandom that will change her life.
I’m always skeptical of books that use Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube etc, because it’s so rarely done well. It always feels cringy, and so fake, like the authors have never actually used these platforms themselves. Add even more reluctance if the blurb includes the word ‘fandom’ and I’m really not expecting a lot from that book.
But this was fantastic. All of the dialogue between characters felt so realistic and genuine, when they were making fun of each other, or ‘bantering’, or just talking regularly, it felt real. But the heartache felt real too, and it wasn’t relationship heartache, it was friendship heartache, something that hit a bit too close to home when I was reading it. But it was so nice to see that portrayed, the fact that sometimes you have friends, but they’re only friends on the surface. And it’s not that there’s been some massive falling out, some hatred between teenage girls which is so often shown with no reason to it. There’s just this growing apart and not quite being on each others wave length. And that was really refreshing to read.
I also loved the relationship between Frances and her mother, compared to the relationship between Aled and his mother. It wasn’t the usual teen novel where the main character hates their parents for no real reason – just teenage angst. There was real love and support between Frances and her mother, but there was also all sorts of abuse from Aled’s mother towards him, which is also rarely shown.
And let’s just touch on Frances’ sexuality. There’s no big deal made of the fact that she’s bisexual. She doesn’t make a big deal out of it. In fact, she tells Aled and states ‘there was no one to tell’ (yet another thing that was uncannily close to my own life). But there was no romance for her. There was no falling back in love with her first crush on a girl, and her and Aled didn’t get together. It was super refreshing to read something where there was just pure friendship between a male and female character, with no inkling of a romance about to happen. And we need more of this is YA lit.
Basically, I adored this book and you should all go and read it. 5/5 stars.