Thursday 11 April 2013

A Song for Julia (The Thompson Sisters) By Charles Sheehan-Miles

Reviewed by Willow and Dawn - 5 Stars

What Willow says:

Having read Just Remember to Breathe by Charles back in November and loving it (I gave it 5 Stars)  I had put this book on my TBR list. I actually bought it on release day, but never got around to reading it. I few days ago I was sorting out my shelves on Goodreads and had to re-add this. A few friends then popped up urging me to read it saying it was a beautiful book, one of their favourites.

They were right, it is a very good book. I'm annoyed at myself that I kept putting it off. I love Charles' writing. Once again we have a slow building relationship, nothing ever seems rushed in his books. Some of the things he writes is simply beautiful. I went highlighting mad on my kindle with beautiful, meaningful lines.

The story is about Julia Thompson who is Alex's sister from Just Remember to Breathe. Although Just Remember to Breathe was released first, this book is set before that. (Charles has said that the Thompson sister's books can be read in any order)

Julia, whilst at an anti-war protest in Washington, meets Crank Wilson, a singer in the band Morbid Obesity, who is playing there. Crank has a reputation for one night stands and although Julia  isn't his usual type, there's something about her so he asks her to meet him for lunch after she's finished at the protest. One of the band mates over hears and before Julia has a chance to answer, he tells Crank she's not his type. Julia hates people telling her what to do so she agrees. At lunch they discover they are both from Boston, Julia is attending Harvard, is the daughter of an Ambassador and Crank realises he is from a different world.  Julia invites Crank back to her place but only for the night - isn't that usually all Crank wants? But not this time he wants to know her more, for it to be more, so he walks away.

Back in Boston, they bump into each other again, Crank wants to get to know Julia, but she does not want to get involved. She is holding on to a secret of something that happened to her when she was 14 when living in china, whatever this secret is, it means she can't trust, can't lose control and that means she can't get involved with Crank.

Julia "Crank, though: he made me afraid"
Crank has his own things to deal with, a big part of that is that he has a brother with Asperger's , who he looks after along with his dad who he is always getting in arguments with,  his mum is no longer around, he's trying to get his band noticed and he is trying to understand what it is about this girl that he can't walk away.

There are so many things going on in this book - Julia's secret, her relationship with her family, Crank's family dealing with the effects of his brother having Asperger's, why his mother left, war politics, the band trying to make it and of course the story of the relationship between Julia and Crank - but it actually doesn't feel too much.

This was one of those books that you really don't want to read too quickly, that you want to savour.

Charles next book is called The Last Hour and is about Thompson sister Carrie and is due out 15th May 2013. I will definitely be reading this one on release day!

What Dawn says:

5 great big stars

 I put off reading this book for so long and now I don't know why?! I read one of Charles's other books Just Remember to Breathe at the end of last year and loved it. So I finally got round to reading this the other day and once I started I couldn't stop. Why did I wait so long?!?
It's a beautiful story as Willow has detailed above.

 I love that the relationship between Crank and Julia was slow burning and not instantaneous. Julia has a lot of issues and has this huge wall up around her. Her parents and her past are her main issue. I wanted to slap her mum a good few times. How could a woman be so heartless towards her children. And her dad I wanted to shake and say "Get your head out of your ass and take a look at your family." It was great that Julia got the confidence to stand up to her parents in the end. I liked that we got little bits of her back story for most of the book until she was ready to trust again and tell the full story.

 Julia doesn't have much of a relationship with her sisters but we also see that developing with the older ones as the story goes on.
Crank has his own issues too. One of them being his brother Sean who has Aspergers. Crank wants to protect Sean from Julia as he feels she will leave him and Sean doesn't cope well with change but they develop a good friendship and they trust each other something neither of them are good at. Sean is portrayed beautifully. And I love the relationship between him and Julia.
The other problem is Margot Crank and Sean's mum. She left them with their dad years ago but has recently come back into their lives and they both hate her for what she did but we see that their dad Jack still loves her and it pains him to see his kids feel this way towards their mum. Then we find out the real reason she left and my heart broke for Jack and Margot. So when Jack goes out to war we see the relationship of mother and children develop again and it's lovely.

 Crank has a reputation for being a bit of a man-whore but he wants more from Julia and she just can't give him it she's to hurt from her past and can't let him into her heart although she wants to deep down. We see little by little that she tries but it's just not enough for him. He decides to let her go if she can't love him. I'm glad he did this because it makes Julia see what she's missing when he's not there and realise she can't let her past rule her forever.

 It's a beautiful book that covers so many issues but its not so much that you are confused or the story is jumping all over the place.

 I would only say one personal negative thing and that is that I would have like an epilogue a little bit further into the future and the relationship.

 I definitely won't wait to so long to read the next book.

 Well done again Charles.