Author: Sharon Dogar
Release date: UK April 2008
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult Fiction
Target audience: 12+
UK Publisher: Chicken House
Summary from the Publisher’s website:
Charley died in the waves last summer. Almost. Now she’s in a coma, neither dead nor alive.
On returning to the beach, her younger brother Hal finds it hard to shake off her presence. Thoughts of Charley begin crowding his mind, revealing strange places and violent emotions. Thoughts that Hal comes to realise are not entirely his own. As Hal digs deeper into the mystery of her accident, he discovers the truth of what happened.
Veined with thrilling mystery and tinged with the super-sensory, a compelling coming-of-age story about first love and tragic loss.
Waves is a contemporary story about family, heartbreaking loss and first love.
Hal and his family spend every summer in their big sea-front house in Cornwall. It is a house that belongs to everyone and no one. It is a house full of shimmering summer memories. But this summer, the house is full of grief and sadness because this is the first time the family have spent the summer without Charley.
The story of brother and sister – Hal and Charley – is told through a dual narrative which moves between Then (the summer before) and Now (the summer without Charley). Hal’s story is one of grief, anger and guilt. However hard Hal tries to shut out the pain of Charley’s voice and the memories of her, he never quite manages it. Charley’s story is one that weaves through her journey from last summer until the unconscious place she exists in now – she is in a coma back in an Oxford hospital – remembering the sweet tingles of first love and the dark shadow that twists anxiety inside her.
Dogar’s writing is poetic and just as rhythmic as the tides that she describes. The setting is a contrast between the wild, bright, golden beach and the twisted, dark shadowy woods. It reflects the two tides of the story – the tender discovery of first love and the sinister foreboding truth which is waiting to be unravelled.
The narrative moves comfortably between Hal and Charley. And yet both voices are convincingly individual. I preferred Hal for the simple fact that he was so self-deprecating. He knew he was a follower rather than a leader. But he was fine with that. He stayed true to himself as the plot twisted and turned. Charley is like a gale force wind blowing through a town whipping life into everything and everyone as she goes.
Waves plays with language and the sounds of words so elegantly. It is a dream to read. It is emotive and tantalisingly evocative of the seaside setting. It is a contemporary story of a family grieving but it is also a tense, suspenseful and unnerving read which explores secrets, lies and the beauty of childhood. Fans of Before I Fall and Twenty Boy Summer will love this book. I certainly did.
Thank you to Chicken House for sending me the book to review.
Read for the British Books Challenge 2011