The Girls of Summer by Katie Bishop
THE GIRLS OF SUMMER
Have you ever read a story in the newspaper of exploitation, be it a massive disparaty in age that makes you feel uncomfortable, or an Epstein esque tale of girls being somehow targeted and coerced into an unimaginable situation. Where are the parents, why do the girls not call the police you might ask.
The Girls of Summer seeks to address how this can happen, whilst also being a coming of age, sun soaked, independence seeking novel of a summer in Greece (yes these pics are from my Greek getaway in May), with a young girl on the precipice of adulthood desperate to prove her sophistication and find a new identity.
It’s a book of different parts, each chapter flitting back and forth from present to past. It’s ingenuity is in the almost thriller like slow unveiling of how our memories can be utterly distorted. Rachel is married to Tom but yearns for the sheer passion she felt for her first love Alistair, a man she worked for on a Greek Island one summer years ago.
At times I found it repetitive but I now think that was part of her spiralling mind, constantly thinking about being 17 and all her hopes and dreams. What starts as a lighter read does develop into some more compelling and darker themes, of young girls slowly manipulated by predatory men.
We watch as life unravels for Rachel as she is forced to confront her memories and reevaluate what really happened. This is a gripping and timely debut that will provoke hours of discussion for any book club. I didn’t find it a hard read, it’s written accessibly, and I could almost feel the sun and hear the ocean of the laissez faire island life. It’s overarching exploration of those grey moments, of consent and power dynamics and the exhilarating promise of love was a highlight for me.
The last few chapters where events ramp up I could have done with more on, as I wanted to know more about how Rachel felt, which is probably testament to how much I believed in the character. C
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