Publisher: Myriad Editions.
Release date: June 16th 2011.
Paperback, 260 pages.
Rating: 3½ out of 5.
Source: Received from publisher for review.
In her eagerly anticipated second novel Mail on Sunday Novel Competition winner Isabel Ashdown explores the treacherous territory of adolescent friendships, and traces across the decades the repercussions of a dangerous relationship.It’s more than twenty years since Sarah Ribbons last set foot inside her old high school, a crumbling Victorian-built comprehensive on the south coast of England. Now, as she prepares for her school reunion, 39-year-old Sarah has to face up to the truth of what really happened back in the summer of 1986.August 1985: Sarah celebrates her fifteenth birthday in the back garden of the suburban seaside house she shares with her ageing father. As she embarks on her fifth and final year at Selton High School for Girls Sarah’s main focus is on her erratic friendships with Tina and Kate; her closest allies one moment, her fiercest opponents the next as they compete for the attention of the new boy, Dante. When her father is unexpectedly taken ill, Sarah is sent to stay with Kate’s family in nearby Amber Chalks. Kate’s youthful parents welcome her into the comfort of their liberal family home, where the girls can eat off trays and watch TV in Kate’s bedroom. They’ve never been closer – until a few days into her stay, events take a sinister turn, and Sarah knows that nothing will ever be the same again.
Hurry up and Wait, the second novel from Isabel Ashdown is a pure nostalgia trip of a book, perfect for those of you who danced to Walk Like an Egyptian at the local youth club, applied Rimmel’s Heather Shimmer lipstick and thought you were the height of sophistication, and sang along to Blondie’s Sunday Girl, the song from which this book takes it’s title. If you grew up in the eighties and would like to take a trip down memory lane while also reading a hard-hitting coming of age read, then this one is for you. While a lot of the eighties references were lost on me, there were a lot of aspects of this one that I did enjoy, such as the insightful focus on female friendships, and the story of a summer that went oh, so wrong, with disastrous consequences for fifteen year old Sarah Ribbons.
We meet present day Sarah as she prepares to attend her high school reunion. She seems overly anxious and nervous about meeting her old class mates and bumping into lost loves, and it soon emerges that something very bad happened to Sarah way back when she was a teenager in the eighties. Sarah is hiding a deep, dark secret, one she’s never told anyone, and now, as she returns to the town where she grew up, and to her old school, she must finally face her demons.
Ashdown then takes us back to the eighties where we meet Sarah as she celebrates her fifteenth birthday. We learn of her elderly father, her summer job, and the school year that follows with her friends Kate and Tina, who are two girls that you will just love to hate! Let’s just say that these friendships, like many of the teenage kind, are filled with friction, rivalries, sniping, and general boyfriend stealing nastiness. We witness the trials and tribulations of Sarah’s fledgling relationship with the exotically named Dante, but, though this is a coming of age story, don’t expect first loves and sweet romances here. This book is dark and edgy, and rather than crushes and first kisses you can expect inappropriate relationships, loss of innocence and the consequences of both.
What I liked most about this novel was it’s depiction of female friendships, especially the competitive rivalry-filled friendships that seem to form between teenage girls. The depiction of the relationship between Sarah, Kate and Tina, which seems to change on a weekly basis is insightful and perceptive and something that everyone will relate to. As it often is with friendship trios, it’s often two against one here with Sarah often on the losing side. With friends like the cocky and spiteful Kate and the shy and awkward Tina, Sarah sure didn’t need any enemies!
With heavy foreshadowing throughout, Hurry up and Wait doesn’t contain a whole lot of surprises, but its themes are as such that they are still hard-hitting and unsettling. While the book veers a little into mundane territory as it depicts the ins and outs of Sarah’s very ordinary everyday life, this even pace only serves to heighten the shock and discomfort we feel as the true events of the summer of 1986 unfold before our eyes.
Hurry up and Wait is certainly a powerful coming of age read, and for those of you who were teenagers in the eighties it will be a joy to read, and a pleasurable trip down memory lane that will really take you back!