Set in 1990’s small town Ireland this is a quiet yet captivating novel about teenage love, grief and pain that I adored reading. In the novel we meet 15-year-old Lani Devine who falls in love with Leon Brady. Leon’s mother is buried in the cemetery next to Lani’s house and she sees him visit the grave regularly. She watches him on his daily visits building up a story in her mind of the pain he is going through and why he is there.
Leon on the other hand is a deeply troubled person. He is haunted by a brutal family tragedy that has left scars much more than skin-deep. When Lani and her friend attend the local disco with the aim of meeting him, a night out that has unfortunate consequences further along in the story.
As Lani falls deeper and deeper in love with him, old wounds begin to reopen and start to change the shape of their lives forever. Rebecca manages to weave into the novel several storylines including stories of orphaned girls who died in a fire which itself echoes the 1943 St Joseph’s Orphanage fire in Cavan. She also beautifully writes about the angst of being a teenager in love, falling out with best friends and discovering that your parents are “at it under our roof” when you are fifteen.
This is a novel that will bring back memories of your own teenage years and all the challenges that growing up and falling in love has. Written in the first person and although a debut novel this is a very self-assured novel that quietly engaging which deserves to be read by lots of people.