November Senior Fiction Book of the Month

The Places I’ve Cried in Public – Holly Bourne

The nominations for the CILIP Carnegie Medal Book Award 2021 were announced on 2nd November.   It’s a strong Iist of excellent books.  One of the books that made it onto the longlist, Holly Bourne’s The Places I’ve Cried in Public, I’ve been wanting to write about for a while and promote to you.  Holly Bourne is one of the most popular authors for Years 10 and 11 and for good reason.  As well as an excellent novelist, Holly is also a mental health advocate and strong feminist and these issues are prominent in her storylines.  These are important issues for staff and pupils at AGGS, so if you haven’t discovered her books yet, I think you’ll love them.

I talk a lot in library lessons about the power of fiction to help us understand people, places and experiences we’ve never met, visited or lived.  This is a perfect example of how fiction can help us.  An important though often painful read, it’s a story to store in your memory banks so you are able to recognise manipulation and reject it, should you find yourselves in a similar situation.

The tagline is “It looked like love. It felt like love.  But this isn’t a love story”.   The story deals with the delicate issue of abusive relationships and there are trigger warnings at the front and back of the book.  Amelie is 16 and finds herself living in London, uprooted by her parents, separated from both friends and her boyfriend.  She is shy and lacking in confidence but whilst performing at and winning the talent show at her new school, she is noticed by Reese, the lead singer of the band which comes second in the competition.  She is vulnerable and an all-consuming relationship between the two develops.  The true nature of their relationship is revealed to us in flashbacks by present day Amelie as she revisits each place in which she has cried because of something Reese has done or said.

The book is thought-provoking, honest and reveals many truths about what an unhealthy relationship looks like.  As I said, it’s not an easy read in places  and not a happy book but it’s an important and powerful read.

Recommended for Years 10 and 11.