Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Book review: Only We Know by Simon Packham


My edition: Paperback, published on 4 June 2015 by Piccadilly Press, 229 pages.

Description: What is the secret of Lauren's past?

Lauren's family have moved house very suddenly, and she and her sister Tilda have to go to a new school. Lauren's determined to reinvent herself, but she's panic-stricken when she sees Harry, who she knew a few years ago. Luckily Harry doesn't recognise her, and she knows she has to make sure it stays like that.

Lauren, unlike Tilda, settles in well. She makes friends, is helping to organise the school fashion show, and has boys asking her out. But just as her life finally seems to be looking up she starts receiving macabre packages. When she gets a message: 'Isn't it time your new friends knew all about you?' she has to admit that someone knows her secret. But who - and what should she do?

Rating:



This was one of my top picks of novels to look out for after the brilliant Hot Key Books and Piccadilly Press blogger brunch, because the story sounded incredibly intriguing and the mock-up cover we were shown (and I'm pretty sure ended up being the final version – or at least very close) was just stunning. And rightfully so, because what an incredible novel this is!

The protagonist is a teenager by the name of Lauren, who is starting at a new school after something bad has happened at her previous one. What exactly this is and whether she was the victim or cause of the reason both she and her sister were forced to make a new start is not revealed until the end of the novel and this cloud of mystery, which hangs over her past, added an intriguing element to what was already a hugely compelling book.

From the opening pages, I felt invested in Lauren's story and rooted for her to succeed at making a fresh start at her new school. Simon Packham created an incredibly likeable character with her and one that teenagers nowadays undoubtedly can relate to; after all who hasn't ever tried to just blend in and not be noticed by their peers? Of course in Lauren's case there is a far more complicated reason for the way she acts, but regardless of the reason for the way she positions herself she's a great representative of today's complicated teenager.

There was nothing I didn't love about the way this novel was build up; the mysterious flashbacks, the fact that Lauren's past was only ever alluded to, and the slow tension that build throughout up to its explosive conclusion, but I particularly loved her tentative friendship with Harry, which was such an incredibly moving and realistic storyline strand. The fact that she recognised him from her old life and the secrets she was trying to distance herself from added a touch of danger and excitement to them spending time together – after all, he could start remembering at any time and then her fresh start would've been for nothing.

And when it was finally revealed what had happened to Lauren that made it so important for her to have that new beginning and hide her past it was such a heartbreaking revelation that I couldn't help but let the tears flow while I was reading this on the train into work. It made total sense within the context of the story but from the subtle hints sprinkled throughout it was an explanation I hadn't seen coming at all. I did have my suspicions about some other things, but I wasn't even close. Well played, Simon Packham, well played.

I really can't say any more about the contents of Only We Know because the less you know the more exciting and rewarding your journey through Lauren's life will be. Just know that this is a beautiful and important story and one that every young adult and not-so-young adult should read.

You can purchase the novel from Waterstones, Amazon.co.uk or your own preferred retailer.



Would you like to know more about the author? You can connect with him online at:

Website: www.simonpackham.com

Twitter: @baldambitions


Many thanks to the publisher for an advance copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

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