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Helen Cross
248 Pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing Film Tie-in edition (May 2005)
ISBN: 0747575886
Price: S$17.80 (Available in Borders)






Growing up can be such a pain. The uncertainties that surround you, the pressure from family, the tensions of living up to certain expectations and most frustratingly, the need to find companionship – this list should be familiar if you are a self-proclaimed grown-up who can proudly state that you have survived that stage.

Helen Cross’ 2001 debut novel captures that sentiment well, and to make the story drip of more teen angst, it takes place during summer in Yorkshire, England, where everyone is hot, bothered and flustered.

The easily-comprehensible tale tells the story of two 15-year-olds, Mona and Tasmin, who meet in a small market town. The boring location is perfect for some sizzling action between the two girls. Couple that with other characters like an overweight stepbrother, an abusive man and a deceased anorexic sister, and the result is a good read with intertwining relationships anchored by the love between these two girls.

Told from Mona’s point of view, the English accent and feel is very strong in this novel. Readers who are not too familiar with phrases like “I lub you”, “Where’s me hair thingy?” and “Yer oaf” may take some time to accommodate to this style of writing.

What starts off as an innocent friendship between the two girls gradually evolves into a tale of sexual tension and betrayal. The blur line between what is right and wrong, whether to follow the teenage heart or to do things the expected way, are all nicely depicted in the novel.

The finale even involves a dead body, to spice things up a bit.

And Cross sensationally describes the physical appearances of the characters, as well as the complementary monotonous surroundings so well, you can easily feel the alluring realm of the story.

The book may not appeal to those who enjoy very intelligent storylines and very sophisticated writing, because of Cross’ consistent laidback style throughout the 248-page novel. But if you think about it, that’s what growing up should be all about.

Already adapted by filmmaker Pawel Pawlikowski into a film starring Natalie Press and Emily Blunt, this novel is a satisfyingly comfortable read on a humid and lazy afternoon.


“I want you to prick my fingers and sleep for a thousand years, until you wake ME with a kiss, loving love Mona Lisa.

I was very pleased with it. I even wrote it with my left hand, in the hope it would give me a characterful trembling weirdness.”


Read the book if you are growing up to understand that the struggles you are facing is universal. Read the book if you have already grown up to relish those moments tucked away somewhere in your memory. Of course, you must have open mind about the lesbian-implicated plot of the story, if the review isn’t clear about that already.

Review by John Li



Movie Review:

. My Summer of Love



This review is made possible with the kind sponsor of BORDERS


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