Author: Siobhan Dowd
Genre: Contemporary/ Young adult literature
Series: Stand alone
Publisher: David Fickling books
Rating: 4 stars
"After Shell's mother dies, her obsessively religious father descends into alcoholic mourning and Shell is left to care for her younger brother and sister. Her only release from the harshness of everyday life comes from her budding spiritual friendship with a naive young priest, and most importantly, her developing relationship with childhood friend, Declan, charming, eloquent and persuasive. he centre of a scandal that rocks the small community in which she lives, with repercussions across the whole country. The lives of those immediately around her will never be the same again."
I hadn't heard much about this book at all really, only that I was intrigued by this cover. I started to read and at first I didn't know how to feel about the strong christian religion that appeared to be at the forefront of the book. However, after a few pages more characters were built up and introduced and other features were unveiled.
In parts I felt that the protagonist, a girl named Shell was very slow to realise some obvious predictions, yet in a way I felt this added to Shell's Naivety in her situation. I thought that the story played out really nicely and I never got bored as there were a few plot twists to keep the reader hooked.
The writing itself within the book is utterly beautiful and that in itself made the book. The beauty of the naivety of the characters contrasts really effectively with how...well...knowledgeable (or whichever antonym for naive you want to use) the situation they find themselves in is.
There was Romance in the book, yet I don't think it overpowered the sense of strong family love, religion and indeed scandal that play the leading role in the book.
The plot itself has probably already been told many a time in its varying forms but I think that it was definitely the writing style and development of the character's emotions that gave this book it's three stars. I felt I couldn't give it a 5 as I thought that although I really enjoyed it and I was not expecting to find such a good book with virtually no hype beforehand, it was rather predictable and I thought some characters needed more focus on. I have to say though it was really fantastic and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a fast, but beautiful stand alone.