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Watching July Kindle Edition
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“Watching July” tackles hard issues, sometimes dark issues, like peer pressure, a natural desire to fit in, first relationships and the loss of a beloved parent. It welcomes the conversations of gay parenting as July had two mothers– and now she only has one.
July thinks she might finally be on the right track when she meets the neighbor boy and makes a few new friends. He’s cute and they’re nice. Spoiler alert: Things are not always as they seem.
Soon July can no longer ignore the strange signs around her, warning her the past isn’t behind her just yet. Someone in this BC Interior town is watching July.
I would call this a gripping tale of youth, love and mystery.
Sixteen-year-old July carries a few grudges about life. Her mother died under unusual circumstances, leaving unanswered questions. Her older sister is far away in university. Her stepmother (make way for a same-sex family in more ways than one) is under financial pressure at a new job. Worse yet, July has had to exchange her stable home in urban Vancouver for the wilds of the BC interior. No wonder there is tension between the women, and they snap at each other in spite of their affection.
In addition to having to make new friends and change schools, a young person's anathema, it's the isolation itself. Perhaps a primeval paradise for vacationers, Salmon Arm is a microcosm of a dangerous world. From the start, July has bad feelings about her surroundings. At least on the mean streets, she knew what to expect and how to arm herself. Why does she sense that someone is stalking her?
Suddenly, as chance will have it, she meets a personable young man. He's hot, smitten with her, and he has a car. In that teenage hormonal way, she's on top of the world. But the rest of the school isn't that friendly to newcomers. Her efforts at winning a scholarship are doused with cold water. And is the boyfriend a wee bit too possessive? How easily the young and inexperienced can rationalize. But who is sending her cryptic notes? Only her diary is witness. In her quest for independence and self-reliance, July is more alone than ever.
Hart uses the shadowy and dense woods of the British Columbia interior both as a place of wonder and danger. Deep blue lakes reflect serenity and beauty, but evil can hide in the tangled undergrowth. Perhaps there aren't many places to drive, but it only takes one wild party in an isolated clear-cut to make the heart beat faster. And always, as night closes in, being only a few hundred yards from home is no salvation. "She noticed she had slowed again, unable to focus on anything in the abyss of darkness ahead. Something cracked behind her. A twig snapped. She froze, straining to see or hear." Why does no one answer her calls? Are her fears irrational, or is she losing it?
July is a very realistic teenager, from her growing voice of confidence to the naivete she shows in wanting to believe the best in people. She has her moments of temper, but underneath her customary angst is a sweet and vulnerable girl. As the plot picks up speed towards a terrifying ending, pages turn quickly. Will July's worst nightmares come true? Or do they foretell a truth which will free her once and for all?