Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Walking on Trampolines, by Frances Whiting (ends 5/19)

Review by: Rachel Gonzales

There is a moment in panic when time stills, suspended like Chinese lanterns across a street, and in that instance you can fool yourself that everything will be all right if you just stay calm.

This novel by Frances Whiting, a popular and long-running columnist for an Australian newspaper, explores whether it is possible to both stay calm and stop fooling yourself in the face of a personal crisis so big, so dramatic, that it threatens to tear two families apart -- not to mention two best friends.

Official synopsis:
From the day Annabelle Andrews sashays into her classroom, Tallulah “Lulu” de Longland is bewitched: by Annabelle, by her family, and by their sprawling, crumbling house tumbling down to the river.

Their unlikely friendship intensifies through a secret language where they share confidences about their unusual mothers, first loves, and growing up in the small coastal town of Juniper Bay. But the euphoria of youth rarely lasts, and the implosion that destroys their friendship leaves lasting scars and a legacy of self-doubt that haunts Lulu into adulthood.


Years later, Lulu is presented with a choice: remain the perpetual good girl who misses out, or finally step out from the shadows and do something extraordinary. And possibly unforgivable …

It’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce.


I think the timeline on this book is a little unusual -- the most exciting event in the whole novel happens in the prologue. But despite the synopsis, this book is not really about what happens, or how, or even why; this is really a story about a “good girl” and whether or not she can be forgiven (and forgive herself) for what amounts to a huge and at the same time incredibly petty mistake, a youthful indiscretion gone horribly, horribly wrong. This novel is about “what next?”

Much of the story amounts to self-reflection on the part of the main character, Tallulah “Lulu” de Longland. All of the drama is interpersonal and most of the action happens on the periphery, committed by the secondary characters. Lulu is a likeable young woman with a supportive and entertaining assortment of friends and family around her, and you find yourself curious about all of them. How did everyone end up in Juniper Bay, and why do they stay? The conversational and sometimes confessional tone of the writing makes this an entertaining light read. This soup sort of simmers rather than boils, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Still, I give this 3 stars out of 5. This is Lulu’s story, but I found that some of the secondary characters seemed more interesting than Lulu herself. This book might have benefited from multiple points of view -- Lulu is likeable, but she’s very “good,” and combined with her youth, she seems a little underdeveloped. I’d be interested in reading another book about Lulu and company set maybe 10 years in the future, when they’ve all seen more of the world and developed some “edge.”

About the reviewer:

Rachel Gonzales is a wife, mom, theatre geek, and substitute high school teacher (not necessarily in that order) from Pennsylvania. She reads anything and everything, including bizarro comic books that she finds on dusty old shelves in the back of the toy store near the mogwai. Her favorite color is purple and her favorite punctuation mark is the Oxford comma.

GIVEAWAY:

Two
of my lucky readers will win a paperback copy of Walking on Trampolines.

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Tuesday, May 19th, at 11:59pm EST, and winners will be emailed the next day and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner(s) will be chosen.

U.S. and Canadian residents only, please.

Good luck!

Walking on Trampolines

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