03 August 2012

Review: Black Heart Blue by Louisa Reid

Black Heart Blue by Louisa Reid

Published: 10 May 2012 by Razorbill

Pages: 266 (paperback)

Genre/s: YA, Social Issues

Source: Own library

Check It Out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK ~ The Book Depository

Synopsis (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 ...

Hephzibah 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

Black Heart Blue is a book with some pretty intense themes. Living in isolation with their parents, the village vicar and religious extremist The Father and the henpecked The Mother, all they have is each other - until Hephzibah convinces The Mother to let them both attend the local college. Hephzibah is enthralled with their new freedom, and starts to plan her escape from their parents, whilst Rebecca, who was born with Treacher Collins syndrome, tries to just make it through each day without being noticed.

Told in alternating POVs, with Rebecca taking the 'now' and Hephzibah taking the 'before', it's a harrowing, disturbing tale. As the story progresses, the tension builds as secrets are revealed by both sisters.
However, as much as I tried, I couldn't connect with Hephzibah.

Instead of defending her twin sister, with whom she has endured some terrible things in their short lives, once they are allowed to attend college, she pretty much abandons her to their parents abuse, school-yard bullying and uses her to cover up when she begins to sneak out to meet the boy she has a crush on, knowing full well that Rebecca would bear the full brunt of any punishment.

While I understand where Ms Reid was going with the character of Hephzibah, and the point she was trying to make, it actually made me a little unsympathic towards her - and if I had liked her, I would have liked this book far more.

But I did like Rebecca, and my heart broke for her over and over again. Locked inside a loveless house, without her sister and with seemingly no possibility to escape, she grows and develops into a strong young woman, despite everything life has so unfairly thrown at her.

A shocking story, which takes darker twists and turns than I had imagined, Black Heart Blue is extremely well written, but without the connection to one of the main characters, I just couldn't completely immerse myself in it.

1 comment:

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