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My Summer of Love

por Helen Cross

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1314212,428 (3.43)7
It's 1984 and one of the hottest summers Yorkshire's seen. It's the kind of woozy heat to lose your mind in... Mona is fifteen years old. She's a drinker, a thief and a fruit machine addict. Things are already going badly in the pub where she lives with her obese step-brother PorkChop. But when Mona meets posh Tamsin Fakenham, a sassy girl with beautiful breasts, an actress mother and a sister who's died of starvation, things very quickly get much worse...… (mais)
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You could meet a crazy girl and truly believe her to be your saviour.

My Summer of Love is a bit of a bizarre read, a precursor to decadent novels of bored, awakening teenage girls like Dare Me and bares more than a few passing similarities to the real life crimes of Juliet Hulme (now crime novellist Anne Perry) and Pauline Parker. There's an almost surreal dissonance they exemplify: the obsessive, sexualized friendship between two girls, pushing the boundaries of every relationship, dispersing pseudo witticisms about men and sex in that under-experienced but over-aware teenage way, and the seemingly inevitable slide into violence and criminality.

Mona is a fifteen year old girl living above her father's pub with her stepbrother Porkchop in a small Yorkshire town. She's awkward, immature, ostensibly addicted to alcohol and fruit machine gambling, and vacillates between bold confidence and startling naivete. Though Mona is not particularly likeable, she's easy to fall into as even her internal monologue contains a strong Yorkshire dialect, allowing me to easily hear her voice in my head.

She meets Tamsin Fakenham a posh girl with a dead sister. She's beautiful, condescending, manipulative and controlling. Mona is instantly entranced by her and they become fast, if unsteady, friends. Together, they're explosive. In their absence, Tamsin's parents believe that she has gone to stay with an old aunt while she studies for her exam, but is instead living in a strange fantasy world with Mona where they are awake all night, starve themselves and have sex constantly. But their manic lifestyle is far from idyllic, their friendship unstable and volatile, each trying to gain the upper hand in an undending game of oneupmanship. Mona often comes up short.

Helen Cross's writing works wonderfully in developing atmosphere; you feel a sticky, cloying quality as you read, matching the heatwave that invades the setting. The entire novel takes place over a single month, so this works particularly well to generate the frenzied obsession the girls have with each other and their increasingly daring acts of criminality.

While Mona's chubby, sensitive stepbrother Porkchop is the only remotely likable character in the entire novel, it didn't detract from my enjoyment at all. It may even have enhanced it as the near-mania that overcomes Mona and Tamsin will inevitably end badly and I was at the edge of my seat waiting for it. Ultimately, My Summer of Love is a taut, if sometimes confusing, coming of age story teetering on the knife edge of thriller. ( )
  xaverie | Apr 3, 2023 |
This author has written one of my favourite books of all time, as well as one of my least favourite. So I was curious as to which this would most closely resemble. It ended up being somewhere in the middle - her ability to nail anything with sparkling prose is used here to good effect. She reaches heights other authors can only dream of. It’s worth reading just for that. On the other hand I found the storyline melodramatic and difficult to follow. Funnily enough, like narrator Mona I was also 15 in 1984 and growing up in Yorkshire. I can’t remember any of my peers engaging in the sort of repartee found here - and the ones who skipped school, smoked and drank, and were experienced enough to refer to “thumb-twiddlingly bad sex” would have been the least likely of all (though I unreservedly loved that phrase!). What did feel reasonably genuine was the tendency of Mona and her friend Tamsin to talk across each other, neither particularly interested in what the other was saying. As a depiction of the self-absorption of teenagers it was pretty realistic, but as a story it left me cold. ( )
  jayne_charles | Oct 13, 2019 |
I found this darkly funny, with enough slightly unpredictable and perhaps far-fetched happenings to keep it interesting but grounded. Its Northern setting and style kept it real. I like how it really downplayed the sexual side of the two main characters' relationship rather than basing the whole book around it. However, the ending - while it left enough unanswered questions to make you think - seemed a little rushed. ( )
  SadieBabie | Jun 23, 2018 |
Not really my cup of tea, I found it difficult to get through and, to be honest, if I weren´t travelling, I would have abandoned it. ( )
  soffitta1 | Sep 3, 2010 |
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It's 1984 and one of the hottest summers Yorkshire's seen. It's the kind of woozy heat to lose your mind in... Mona is fifteen years old. She's a drinker, a thief and a fruit machine addict. Things are already going badly in the pub where she lives with her obese step-brother PorkChop. But when Mona meets posh Tamsin Fakenham, a sassy girl with beautiful breasts, an actress mother and a sister who's died of starvation, things very quickly get much worse...

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