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Book Review: Black Heart Blue by Louisa Reid

Black Heart BlueTitle: Black Heart Blue
Author: Louisa Reid
Series: Standalone
Pages:  266
Publisher: Puffin
Date of Publication: 10th May 2012
Source: Publisher Event*
Synopsis from Goodreads: Hephzibah: You've no idea what it's like having a freak for a sister.

Rebecca: Born first, prettier, Hephzi's always been the popular one.

The Father: When he was busy with his bottle we were usually safe. Usually.

The Mother: Her specialist subject was misery and lessons of painful silence ...

Hepzibah and Rebecca are twins. One beautiful, one disfigured. Trapped with their loveless parents, they dream of a normal life. But when one twin tragically dies, the other must find a way to escape. Because if she doesn't, she'll end up like her sister.

My Thoughts:
I never know what to expect from these kind of books. I've read similar books before and sometimes I think they're incredible, and other times I think they could have been incredible yet there was something missing - I didn't feel enough pity for the characters or I couldn't understand something that was going on. And Black Heart Blue is one of the better books about domestic violence that I've read, yet I still feel as though there was something lacking, something else I needed, to be able to fully engage in the story.

For the first 75 pages or so, I found it quite slow. I was eager to find out how Rebecca would escape from her dad and find out what really happened to Hephzi, but I thought it took a little bit too long to really get to what I wanted from the story. I feel like domestic violence is something I know very little about - luckily I've never come across it apart from in my PSHE lessons at school, and therefore I'm not really sure about how I feel about the book. On the one hand, I found it interesting to read and said PSHE lessons make more sense now, but on the other it was horrible to read about and some of the things that their father did to them were awful.

I found I wanted to know why the twins' father was the way he was, why he abused them so. I wanted to know what could possibly drive him to be so cruel, and to his own children. We're given a reason at the end but I wanted to know sooner, I wanted more detail, to see if I could possibly understand him. And even though I probably wouldn't be able to, I'd still like to know. I feel like now, having read Black Heart Blue, I have a lot of unanswered questions floating around in my head and some thoughts that I can't quite put into words, and that, I think, is what was missing for me.

However, once I got past the beginning, I began to really engage in the story and feel invested in the characters. I didn't enjoy it, exactly - it's not a happy book - but I felt that I needed to keep reading to make sure that Rebecca would be able to reveal the secret behind Hephzi's death, and get out alive. I loved the way it was told in 'Before' and 'After' Hephzi's death - it gave us a chance to get to know both sisters and discover what we could about their difficult little world.

I felt I could relate to Rebecca more than Hephzi, but I thought Hephzi's ventures into the real world and rebelling against her parents were more exciting and interesting to read about, even though I didn't really like her. She annoyed me and I thought she was too obsessed with fitting in, and while I could sympathise with her and try and understand that it's because of her home life, it still got on my nerves when she ditched Rebecca because she was ugly and disfigured. She didn't really understand that all the difficulties she was having, in going to school and fitting in, were also being suffered even more by Rebecca, because of her face, and it made me dislike her, because she was really quite self-centred.

Overall, Black Heart Blue is a very powerful, very thought-provoking debut novel from Louisa Reid. If you're looking for something poignant, something that you can learn something from, then this is the book for you. I'd recommend to fans of 'issues' books, as this is one of the best I've read in a long time.

Comments

  1. I really fancy reading this one but I think I've been putting it off because its quite obviously something that will be classed as "mis lit" in the adult section and that doesnt really usually appeal to me. I want to try it but I fear it'll lack something for me as well… I might give it a go eventually but I aint rushing out to buy it. Thanks for your honest review!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This book sounds really interesting, and I really want to read it, but I might wait until I'm in the mood for something a little more serious and Issue-y. Thanks for the review!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Luv ur blog :D **New Follower**

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