We occasionally post summaries of reviews, but sometimes it feels like we should post entire reviews. In this case, our author Maxine Linnell is very pleased with this review of her young adult novel Closer. The review appears in the current issue of the children's/young adult review magazine Carousel and is written by Yvonne Coppard. Closer is available in paperback and as an eBook.
Mel is a teenager who feels increasingly disconnected - from life, from family, and from any hope of happiness with Raj, the boy she really likes but whom she can’t believe is interested in her. She wars with her older sister and is irritated by her younger brother Only her stepfather seems to know how to reach her. And as the story goes on, we realise there is something Mel isn’t telling us - the darkest secret of all, the fear that hovers in the heart of every careful parent. Her stepfather is too close, and Mel doesn’t know what to do about it. There are many autobiographies in the best-seller charts that deal with the manipulation and sexual abuse of children. Strange then, that the most realistic, most compelling read I’ve come across for a long time is this piece of fiction. For most abuse is not defined by abduction, enslavement and involving terrified obedience. No, most of it is manipulation, a distortion of genuine love and buried in the heart of a family that becomes increasingly dysfunctional without understanding why it is happening. Mel’s hesitant, half-told account of what’s going on builds the suspense; there are no gory details; we kind-of know what’s coming but can’t be sure what will happen next. It’s impossible to make a story like this ring true for everyone, but as a sensitive and realistic portrayal of the complexity of incest and the quiet devastation it wreaks on a family, this is up there with the best I’ve read.