I’m a huge fan of everything published by DFB – their books are always incredibly written, overwhelmingly powerful and usually pretty beautiful. Other than The Call which is less beauty and more intensely terrifying and brilliant. The lovely Carolyn sent me a copy of Eden Summer which did not disappoint – a stunning book exploring the pain of loss and power of friendship.
“It starts like any other day for Jess – get up, draw on eyeliner, cover up tattoos and head to school. But soon it’s clear this is no ordinary day, because Jess’s best friend Eden isn’t at school…she’s gone missing. Jess knows she has to do everything in her power to try to find Eden before the unthinkable happens. So she starts to retrace their steps, looking back over the summer she and Eden have just spent together. She starts to notice new things. She starts to question everything she thought Eden’s summer had been about…A tense and thrilling journey through friendship, loss, betrayal and self discovery.”
God this book had all the emotions. First, because me and my sister also had a pretty tempestuous relationship growing up and so I quickly text her after reading this just to say, you know, I do love you really. Second, because of Liz Flanagan’s writing. An expert in a YA mind it seems and a beautifully emotive writer of grief and recovery. Her prose is poetic, haunting and incredibly touching.
I loved Jess because she was different, but more so because she didn’t act like she was in a stereotypical way. So often we have these tropes of someone who dresses like an ’emo/goth’ and the connotations that come with it. But Jess is one of those people and is funny, interesting, kind and honest and bloody lovely to Eden and I was thrilled to see Liz Flanagan fight against the morbid stereotype. I also loved Jess’ Mum in who we could see the battle between keeping her daughter safe, and trying to help her recover and move on from what happened to her. The love there which isn’t as obvious as the friendship was still so significant to me.
There’s a perfect balance between annoyance and empathy for Eden as we watch her struggle after what has happened. We react with Jess as she recoils in hurt but is bravely determined to be there for her friend. Eden’s journey of grief is also so recognisable and so delicately handled by Liz, it just really made my heart ache. The moments of bravery which so easily destruct into moments of indescribable sadness. You could really feel her pain, and the pain of Jess who felt so helpless. Even though we are reading from Jess’ point of view, I felt so invested in Eden, so intrigued by her and really started to care for her. I think, in fact, I just felt some sort of comfort in her. That someone was experiencing what I have, what so many of us have: loss and guilt.
And then we have Liam, a character who you don’t wholly trust but really hope he’ll turn out to be the guy you think he is. I won’t spoil whether he is or not. All in all, a powerful, moving book which really makes you leap from sadness to warmth over and over as you journey through their grief and beautiful friendship. I felt every moment with these characters – a wonderful debut and I can’t wait to see more.
Eden Summer by Liz Flanagan is out now.