Author: Louisa Reid
Published: 10 May 2012 by Penguin
Length: 256 pages
Warnings: domestic abuse, teenage pregnancy, other controversial issues 14+
Other info: This is Louisa’s debut novel.
Summary : Hephzibah: You've no idea what it's like having a freak for a sister. Rebecca: Born first, prettier, Hephzi's always been the popular one. The Father: When he was busy with his bottle we were usually safe. Usually. The Mother: Her specialist subject was misery and lessons of painful silence ... Hepzibah and Rebecca are twins. One beautiful, one disfigured. Trapped with their loveless parents, they dream of a normal life. But when one twin tragically dies, the other must find a way to escape. Because if she doesn't, she'll end up like her sister.
Review: Hephzibah is beautiful. Rebecca is not-she was born with Treacher Collins syndrome. They live with their abusive parents and dream of escaping some day. Then Hepzhi dies. And Rebecca must try even harder to get out.
As you can tell, this really isn’t my normal kind of book. But if lots of people say it’s good, I’ll have a go with it.
It’s surprisingly easy to get into. it starts out sad, and just gets sadder as you learn more about the two girls and the way they’re treated by their “parents”. The pacing is brilliant, with subtle things happening throughout furthering the story.
I like the fact that the two narrations intertwine, despite narrating a different time frame. The writing really is amazing in this book. it details everything, keeps you interested, and really pulls you in. Throughout, you keep waiting for knowing the details behind Hepzhi’s death, but we don’t get to learn until the end. The way we are told about the After makes you really want to know about the Before.
The characterisation is really good. You get into the desperate mind of the two girls, and you really feel sorry for them. You also manage to feel a bit bad for the mother, who I think only acts the way she does because of the father. The father was a really terrible one, I have no idea how he passed himself off as a vicar. You really have to hate him and the way that he kept everything that most of us get from parents from his children.
Rebecca definitely develops. She becomes a little more comfortable with her condition, and also gains a huge amount of courage.
You can’t enjoy it because of what it’s presenting. I think it’s because of the way it’s presented, with everything happening. Disfigurement, bereavement, drinking, and domestic abuse. It presents them in a mature way that makes you think a lot about them. There’s also a list of discussion questions that really make you think.
Overall: Strength 4 tea to a really powerful, hard hitting book.