Sunday 2 June 2013

Sunday Spotlight: By Any Other Name by Laura Jarratt

My new Sunday Spotlight feature (which actually bears a striking similarity to my old Saturday Spotlight feature) will showcase some of my favourite recent books reviewed for the superb Bookbag site.

Everyone knows that Holly is a new girl at school, and that her family are newly arrived in the village. None of them realise just how much is new about Holly, though - even her name. Last year, she was a witness to a crime, and she and her family have gone into witness protection, forcing them to start life afresh. Can they find happiness in a strange place, or will the nightmares that haunt Holly never leave her? Worse, are they safe, or could the nightmares come true?
This was probably my most-anticipated book of the year so far, which always worries me slightly – when you're as desperate to read something as I was to get my hands on this, there's always the potential that it could be a let-down. I needn't have worried, though – within a couple of chapters it was clear that it's just as captivating as Jarratt's debut, Skin Deep.
Even though in some ways it's similar to Skin Deep - another really strong central pairing, for a start, and in the way it manages to touch on a huge amount of difficult topics without giving any of them short shrift - it's also very different in parts. In particular, there's slightly less focus on romance here and a bit more on action - with a climax that left me literally struggling to breathe I was so tense! That's not to say it's better than Jarratt's debut, which was my favourite young adult contemporary of last year, but it's definitely just as good, and with two truly superb stand-alones Jarratt has cemented herself at the top of my 'auto-buy' list.
Holly is a great narrator, and I loved the way she develops through the novel, but the stand-out character here is her autistic sister Katie, who finds the moves across the country even more difficult to deal with than the rest of her family do. The rest of the characters, however, are all brilliant as well - utterly believable and well-written. In addition, it's pacy, it has great dialogue, and I loved the village setting.
Huge recommendation!

1 comment:

  1. This kind of book usually isn't my thing, but this one actually sounds really good! A contemporary but with some more suspenseful aspects as well... I'm gonna have to check it out! Great review.