Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Review: Good Girls Don't by Claire Hennessy

Publisher: Poolbeg Press
Publication Date: January 2004
Source: Borrowed from library

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My past is a list of experiences. Not mistakes, experiences, and if I had the chance to go back and change something, I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t be me otherwise. But I do wish that the past would just stay put . . .” Good girls behave themselves. Good girls work hard. Good girls always do the right thing. Emily Keating is not a good girl by these standards, but she’s trying. She wants to help her friends – even if it means skipping school or kissing them when she probably shouldn’t. She wants to be a good friend to everyone – even Hugh, her ex, who she still has unresolved issues with. Even Lucy, her former crush, who’s toyed with Emily’s heart more than once. Even Barry, her dearest friend, who everyone insists she has chemistry with. But at what point do you need to stop sorting everyone else’s life out and find your own happy ending – even if that means hurting someone you care about?

After reading Nothing Tastes As Good by Claire earlier this year, I really wanted to read more of her novels. So I hunted down a copy of Good Girls Don't in my local library and was very excited to get reading it as soon as possible.

Good Girls Don't follows the life of Emily- a seventeen year old girl who is trying to focus on the happiness of her friends rather than herself and spends most of her time worrying about them rather than herself or school. Emily was such an great character. I loved the complexity of her relationships, how real and flawed her character was at times too.

Emily's relationships with her friends are also something that was very interesting about this novel. Emily believes in fluid sexuality and often sleeps with or kisses whoever it is she feels like, boy or girl. Emily struggles a lot with conflict and fall out from these actions which I think is something a lot of readers could find relate-able.

Emily's friendship and relationship with Declan- a friend who is not very nice to her and often uses her as someone to emotionally blackmail into staying their friend, was also a really interesting part of the novel for me. I also loved Barry, he was so fun and I would love to be friends with him!

Emily's relationship with best friend and sometimes crush Lucy was also such a well written part of the novel. I found myself sometimes disliking Lucy and yet by the end of the book, I liked her again. The relationships and life of a teenager is so well written in this novel.

Even though this novel was published some time ago, you can still find a little of yourself in these characters which is something I feel the now teenage reader could still identify with. Teenage life from mental health, friends, sex, parties, school, relationships etc are all covered in this novel in a very honest, clear and non condescending manner.

I found myself reading this novel very slowly as I would read a little and then put the book down to think about it for a while and maybe go back and re-read passages from earlier in the novel before continuing. I also loved the little bit of Irishness in the novel and think Claire Hennessy is definitely someone I would recommend if you were looking for some Irish YA.

Claire Hennessy is growing to be one of my favourite authors with her obvious talent for both creating a wonderful story for the reader but also creating one in which the reader can see themselves. This book is going onto my favourites list definitely!

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