There seems to be a secret on many lips that just keeps spilling out and whoops...everyone starts to hear about it! This most ineptly kept secret is how good Amanda Jennings debute novel is, and its entitled 'Sworn Secret', so as you can see I'm trying to be clever and failing miserably.
In truth I don't think I can tell you how good 'Sworn Secret' is, I do happen to think its brilliant. My words would almost certainly fall short, but I am feeling brave so here we go.
SWORN SECRET by Amanda Jennings
This book concerns the lives of a family shattered by child bereavement, following each member and their struggle to adapt (if they can) to the world following the death of one of their loved ones.
Anna died by falling from the gym block in her school. She was drunk and reckless and by all accounts much loved. A special child. A year later and her mother, Kate, has fallen into a pit of mourning she cannot escape from, black sackcloth walls smoother her life post Anna's death and she cannot climb out. Jon, her father, tries to keep it all going but he is crippled by loneliness, having lost his oldest child, effectively his wife and though he tries to hold on his youngest daughter Lizzie is drifting away too.
As revelations concerning Anna's death come to light and old wounds left weeping start to gush once more it seems this is an event that has and will destroy these once bright and happy people, collapsing their loving family into never ending despair, yet we all find ways to move on. The stages of grief must be walked through, no matter how painful they are for the walkers and the ones desperate to carry them.
I tried to be clever there again....did you notice?
I love this book. Its sad, its makes your heart ache and its damned difficult to hold back manly tears through it. I failed of course. Why should that then be something you'd want to read?! Simple, because real emotional reactions dragged from books should always be sought out!
I loved the characters, how they interacted, the tears they wept and the miles they walked to try and get back to each other. It is grim reading in places as I said, Anna is a modern teenage girl with all the trappings and maybe we can see some of what she felt through Lizzie's journey into Love too? Maybe we can begin to understand the motivations that pull through the characters that surround the family, their parts in the sad play and perhaps even come to feel some empathy for them?
I know I did.
I love it because it engaged, was exceptionally easy to read, flowed beautifully, twisted just enough to make one feel the upheaval and was above all else very well written. It does have sad and unpleasant subject matter but it's never too horrible through involved description. It tells you what you need to know, shows you the picture without ever trying to shock you cheaply, which would detract from the emotional content, which is exceptionally strong.
I bought the book because I had chatted very briefly with Amanda on Twitter. I bought her book because I'm trying to up my game and I wanted to see what she had delivered as her first novel, gripped by the idea that perhaps you didn't need to be on your fourth novel to be great at what you did.
I bought her book because I wanted to step out of comfort zone and try something new.
She is new. The book is great. I can up my game. Amanda is lovely.
I'd love to be able to produce something this good one day.
Go get it. I loved it.
(I'd put a jazzy pic here of the book but I can't work out how to put a link here :-) So instead I'll tell you to go to Amazon. They have it. I checked and I actually bought it for myself as a birthday present on that special day. Says it all right? Yeah.)