The summer the Dovers move in next door, sixteen-year-old Helen’s lonely world is at once a more thrilling place. She is infatuated with the bohemian family, especially the petulant and charming daughter Victoria.
As the long, hot days stretch out in front of them, Helen and Victoria grow inseparable. But when a stranger appears, Helen begins to question whether the secretive Dover family are really what they seem.
It’s the kind of summer when anything seems possible . . .
Until something goes wrong.
First of all thank you to Transworld publishers for providing me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review. A brilliantly written debut novel from Sarah Jasmon that depicts a truly heart breaking coming of age story.
The story revolves around the friendship between Helen and Victoria. Helen is a quiet, introverted young girl who is spending her summer holidays alone with her books and father. As lonely as her world seems Helen is getting by, just barely. Everything changes when a family moves into the neighbourhood and brings Helen into their livelihood. The Dovers, Victoria especially, bring a light to Helen’s otherwise dim world. As the summer passes by the friendship between the two girls grows until they are inseparable. When everything seems to be going well for Helen, something happens that destroys her newfound happiness and changes the lives of the Dover family irrevocably.
Reading this novel, I never once felt that it was a debut novel. From the 3 dimensional characters to the vivid descriptions of places and events in the story, the novel was solid and I especially loved Sarah’s style of writing; her interweaving of certain twists added substance to the plot and made her voice stand out in the story.
The characters take this story from ordinary to extraordinary. Helen and Victoria were my favourite and what I appreciated most was the fact that neither of the characters were flawless. They both had certain issues to deal with as youngsters but from the past they learn to adapt and develop into adults that are mature, understanding and accepting of everything that has occurred in their life. I felt great deal of sympathy for a lot of the characters but Helen was the one I felt my heart breaking for. As an individual you see her develop into this wonderful woman who has made unfortunate mistakes.
The novel itself is written through flashbacks of the past corresponding with the events of the present. I enjoyed reading the past narrative in third person and the present narrative in first person. The ending of the novel completely sold the book for me. So cleverly written and presented to readers that you can’t help but feel the pain of the characters.
A story of friendship, family and unfortunate dire mistakes, The Summer of Secrets takes readers on an unforgettable journey of redemption. Characters that will resonate with you long after you’ve turned the final page, Sarah Jasmon has created a gem of a novel that allows you to turn back the time and remember your own childhood. A perfect summer read and an exceptionally satisfying read, pick up a copy as soon as possible!
Overall Rating: 9/10
More information about Sarah and her debut novel can be found in the following places: