1st June 2015, 162 pages, Blowfish Books, Ebook, Review copy
Content: lots of suspense, human cruelty, tissues needed
Summary from Blowfish Books
Jane Brittan’s debut novel is a coming of age story with teeth: a gripping story of betrayal, of secrets and lies. In her search for the truth about her missing parents, heroine Sanda is taken to the very edge of herself where she’s forced to unpick and rework everything she ever thought was true. In doing so she uncovers a story of appalling cruelty, neglect and punishment that goes all the way back to her childhood.
Sanda’s parents don’t want anything to do with her and nor, it seems, does anyone else so when Joe asks her out she doesn’t take him seriously.
But she’s wrong.
When she comes home one day to find the house cleared, her parents gone and two men coming for her, it’s Joe who’s there for her. He’s with her when she’s kidnapped, driven across Europe into Serbia where she begins to unravel a complex story of obsession, cruelty and jealousy that has its roots back in the Bosnian War. It’s here she finds that everything she ever thought she knew is wrong and that things are very far from what they seem.
I possibly should have stopped reading this book half way through as I struggle emotionally with war based books. I'd hesitated in saying yes to review it, but was drawn in from the concept of how Sanda was kidnapped from her home. That scene still gives me shivers. It's a captivating read, one which I was reluctant to put down when I had to go to work. That was one long day until I got home. What happens to Sanda, what she witnesses is horrific and harrowing. It contained all the elements which hit me hard – people being hurt/punished/deprived of something, insane thinking enemies, heartbreak, seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
Yet there is an element of hope, which was all that kept me reading – that and I needed to know what happened to those who Sanda meet, as well as the rest of her family who I can't say much about without spoiling the story. You will be shocked a lot reading this, you'll need tissues, and most definitely have a happy read or watch something funny after to help buffer the sadness which accompanies this story, as it's all too easy to imagine this happening in real life. Sanda goes through so much, more than she should for anyone, especially her age. The end is worth the horror of the story, and made me cry even more as Sanda's quick thinking and even her mistakes are sorted out one way or another.