Told from two different points of view, this coming-of-age story about ‘that summer … the one when everything changes’ begins at sixteen-year-old Emerald’s private school in England. Emerald thinks life can’t get any worse than being bullied on social media by so-called friends. But with a shocking discovery at home her world falls apart, and she finds herself spending the summer in Dublin with her grandmother. It’s five years since they’ve been in touch, for reasons no one has explained to her, but Emerald quickly renews the close bond they shared. Here too she meets local boy Liam, who is waiting for his Leaving Cert results and trying to find a way to follow his dreams without breaking his father’s heart. Through their friendship, Emerald soon discovers there is more to life than what can be measured in Instagram likes.
Although it starts off with a bit of shock value, the novel soon develops into one with much greater depth, as the tender love story between Emerald and Liam is slowly unwound. The dual narrator approach works extremely well, giving us a nicely rounded picture of both. If there is a slight frustration at times that we don’t get to see a particular episode from the other character’s point of view, it just demonstrates how well both have been portrayed so that the reader really cares for them. In fact, it’s impossible not to be moved as the past comes back to haunt them both, with the shocking revelation of what exactly happened five years earlier. An exciting début from a talented author.