Friday, 24 June 2016

Review: Caramel Hearts by ER Murray

 Publication Date: May 26th 2016
Publisher: Alma Books
Source: Review Copy from publisher

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Liv Bloom’s life is even more complicated than that of your average fourteen-year-old: her father walked out on the family when she was young, her mother is in a recovery centre for alcoholics, and her older sister is struggling to step into Mum’s shoes. The only person she can turn to is her best friend Sarah, who gets out of scrapes at school and is a constant source of advice and companionship. One day Liv discovers a book of recipes written in her mum’s handwriting, which sets her off on a journey towards self-discovery and reconciliation – but a theft, a love rivalry and a school bully are just some of the many obstacles on the way.

Big thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review. 

I had not heard of this book before requesting it and I am so glad I have now read it! This novel is a sweet coming of age story that also has some gritty and darker scenes. Definitely a novel perfect for fans who grew up reading Jacqueline Wilson. 

This novel tells the story of Liv Bloom's life. Liv is a fourteen year old girl who has a complicated life. Her mum is an alcoholic in a recovery center so her older sister Harriet is taking care of her, their dad left them when they were young and she is also having difficulties at school with her friends and bullying. 

This novel deals with a lot of important issues such as being the child of an alcoholic / emotionally abusive parent, coming from a single parent family, friendship, school, crushes and personal discovery. Murray has written so realistically and vividly about these hard situations that lots of people have to go through and has also shown that there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Liv uses the recipes she found in a secret cook book that belonged to her mum as a way to not only find joy in something and cope with her current situation but also as a way to bring herself closer to understanding and having a meaningful connection with her mother. 

The characters in the novel were great and very well written. Liv was hot tempered, moody, and a typical 14 year old but she was also fun, caring and loyal. I loved reading about her relationship with Harriet and even though they argued, it was clear their relationship was strong. 
I also enjoyed Liv and Sarah's friendship and how close Liv was with Sarah's family. Jack was also a nice and fun character. I also enjoyed reading about Maddy and Liv's fascination with her as everyone else in school looked up to  Maddy as being the "cool" girl in school. Maddy's character could have been delved deeper into in my opinion but I did love the development we did see. 
The plot of the novel was intertwined with recipes and memories allowing the reader to get a full insight into Liv's life. I thought that the plot was entertaining and engrossing while also showing a darker side to life that lots of teens have to go through. I felt that a few twists were predictable and I wished the ending could have been fleshed out a little but overall highly enjoyed the way the plot moved through the novel. 

I also really enjoyed reading a novel by an Irish author! If you have any Irish YA recommendations, please let me know in the comments. 

Overall, a great novel about dysfunctional families, friends, hope and growing up. Definitely recommend this novel. The inclusion of recipes was such a sweet touch and I may even try a few out- even though I am terrible at baking! 

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