Heath, Cliffs & Wandering Hearts
by Laura Barnard
Life for sixteen-year-old Savannah Franks has just been turned upside down. Her Mum’s business has failed and they’re forced to move into a maisonette in the rough end of town.
She doesn’t want anyone to know her dire situation, not even her besties. So when the rest of the money for the school ski trip is due she can’t be seen not to attend. Everyone is going! She just needs to find a job. Add that to the list of getting a boyfriend and losing her pathetic virginity.
But working every spare hour in a job she hates on top of school work and mounting secrets doesn’t prove easy. Soon she’s keeping so many she’s not even sure herself what’s true and what’s not.
The only person she can lean on to tell the truth is her best friend Heath.
Only…did he get hot recently? That won’t make things awkward between them…right?
Jessica’s dad is standing at the door grabbing people and literally throwing them out. People too scared to go near him are jumping on the sofa and flinging themselves out of the window into the flower beds outside… ‘GET OUT, GET OUT!’ he screams in his thick Irish accent. It makes it seem scarier. Like a seriously pissed off leprechaun. Who stole his pot of gold?
We are going to be crushed! Crushed to death by a car in a family planning clinic! And everyone will know we were here. God, the shame. They’ll probably slut shame me at my funeral, even though it wasn’t even me!
My nostrils flare, which is never attractive.
I can tell she’s anything but calm. Underneath the surface, I can tell she’s enraged, boiling over. Her eyes are bloodshot as if she can’t physically keep the rage in. At any minute I’m expecting her to tear off her clothes and turn into the Incredible Hulk.
I beg, sounding like a child. I don’t care; I’m scared. I’ve never felt this ill in my life, and I’m a little bit scared that I may be dying. I don’t think that’s dramatic at all.
I pat the spare side of the bed to him, smiling as seductively as I can…’You okay?’ he asks, with a quizzical look. ‘You got a stomach ache or something?’… Okay. So I obviously failed if I look gassy.
I frequently smirked and laughed aloud as I read this amusing tale. I rarely read YA, but I will read just about anything this talented author cares to churn out, and she made YA fun. Granted this would be what I’ve seen labeled as “upper YA” as the characters experience sex, overindulge in drink, swear, and sneak into dance clubs. Which is most likely why I enjoyed it so much, I am going to call it Naughty YA. Laura Barnard is wicked funny, her clever humor resounds across several levels for me. Her first venture into YA was written from the POV of Savannah, a seventeen-year-old senior in high school to those of us in the US – or sixth form in the UK. Savannah was an angst-ridden, melodramatic, drama queen. She was riddled with self-doubt, as well as overly self-conscious, and prone to irrational fears and helplessness around boys. The narrative of her inner musings may appear disjointed to some, however, if you have spent any time whatsoever in the company of teenage girls, you will realize that is exactly how they talk, think, and behave.
Ms. Barnard either spends considerable time in the presence of teens or has excellent recall of being one. She has fully captured that confusing, exciting, mortifying period of zits, first boyfriends, constant drama, nervous uncertainty, lip curls, boredom, eye-rolls, and the desire to completely disown one’s own family and being horrified at the thought of sharing their gene pool. Savannah’s family was a source of constant embarrassment to her, and they were hilarious. I would have loved having a pink convertible Mini driving Nan that took me to a tarot card reading, bought me a gel bra, gave me a denim mini skirt and encouraged me to throw an unchaperoned party.
The story was highly entertaining; the characters were lovable, interesting, and quirky; and the writing was crisp and unfailingly engaging. I adored Ms. Barnard’s uniquely naughty YA and would read it again anytime.
About the Author
Laura Barnard lives in Hertfordshire, UK and writes romantic comedy or ‘chick lit’ as it’s so often described. In her spare time she enjoys drinking her body weight in tea, indulging in cupcakes the size of her face and drooling over hunks like Jamie Dornan, Ryan Gosling, and Leo Dicaprio.
She enjoys wearing yoga pants and reading fitness magazines while sitting on the sofa eating chocolate. She’s a real fan of the power nap and of course READING!
She writes not to get rich or famous, but because she LOVES writing. Even if one person tells her they enjoyed her book it makes the midnight typing worth it!