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My Summer of Love Paperback – October 1, 2004
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"A hand grenade of a novel." -- Daily Mail
"A sharp, disturbing and highly original debut novel." -- Sunday Mirror
"Dark, intelligent and superbly written. Prepare to be seduced... and shocked." -- Glamour
"Energetic and blackly comic." -- The Times
“A savvy, comic/gothic debut exploring the angry mania of teenage alienation.” -- Kirkus Reviews
“Scabrous and cleverly evocative of the confusion of emergent adulthood, Cross's blistering prose lifts a familiar storyline to another level.” -- Kirkus Reviews
From the Publisher
It's 1984 and one of the hottest summers Yorkshire's seen. It's the kind of woozy heat to lose your mind in...
Mona is fifteen years old. She's a drinker, a thief and a fruit machine addict. Things are already going badly in the pub where she lives with her obese step-brother PorkChop. But when Mona meets posh Tamsin Fakenham, a sassy girl with beautiful breasts, an actress mother and a sister who's died of starvation, things very quickly get much worse...
Winner of the Betty Trask Award 2002. "The Last Resort," the 2004 film of the novel directed by Pawel Pawlikowski, won the 2004 BAFTA (British Oscar) for Best British Film.
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Top Customer Reviews
To begin with the good bits, Helen Cross's strory of Mona, a 15 yo girl in the adolescent turmoil equivalent of the perfect storm (her mom's just died, her sister's turned into a smugg adult, and the whole world is about to crumble and burn - it's 1984, the miners are striking, Yorkshire is impossibly hot, a local girl's gone missing, possibly victim to some predator with an eye for lost teenagers...) is quirky but compelling, it has the energy and sometimes the imperfection of youthful writing.
When she meets Tamsin, she finds a soulmate who has similarly been burnt by life but brings that radical class difference - the carelessness of those who have a very good parachute when they jump in the tumuly of life - that will act like a catalyst for her own addictions, to alocohol, gamble, danger and ultimately violence.
The really interesting part of the story is that of the deceitful relationship between Mona and Tamsin, this incandescent friendship/love/lie fueled by booze and loud disco music. The book is particularly good at describing the frantic efforts of Mona to keep Tam entertained and the great exhaustion that comes from living in a state of neverending excitation.
THe gory ending on the other hand is not very satisfying, which is why I was impressed by the movie adaptation, that captured the adolescent passion of the book without yielding to the equally adolescent temptation to end the story in a carnage. Teenagers play with death, but most will stop short of doing anything irredeemable, the fright of it all will have been enough to make them grow. The movie and the book thus offer two alternative visions of a similar story, the movie version where violence is contained and the threats of the outside worlds are stylised being the more arresting of the 2.
Cross really hammers home a lot of the frustration young girls have to deal with since they both lack female figures in their lives, neither girl is fully able to understand what a proper woman should be. All they have left is pop culture & women they despise on a personal level to emulate & imitate. They learn that it's dangerous to be a woman, because her appearance could attract the wrong kind of attention or even cause her to be unloved. Both girls on multiple occasions talk about what makes their appearances good or bad and make comments that lead us to believe they do not understand what a healthy attraction to women should be (confusing exploitation with adoration), & are jealous of their older sisters. In the background, there is an ominous feel to the story. A girl is missing & Mona assumes her to be dead & frequently imagines her body lying at the bottom of a lake.
For one summer, both Mona & Tamsin decide to live life by their own rules, disregarding what harm it causes to those around them or anybody who comes within their path. Cross's work is a magnificent representation of the effects of class differences, exploitation of women, & cruelty of young girls. It's a tough read for the first thirty pages, but afterwards the story builds & you'll keep turning the pages.
Although I enjoyed the book and think she is a good writer,I must say that very few of the characters were likeable.Or was that point ?