February 3, 2015
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Praised as "a tender exploration of friendship, families, and first love" (Liane Moriarty, New York Times bestselling author of The Husband's Secret), this coming-of-age novel from bestselling author Frances Whiting is equal parts heartwarming, accessible, and thought provoking.
"Tallulah de Longland," she said slowly, letting all the Ls in my name loll about lazily in her mouth before passing judgment. "That," she announced,"is a serious glamorgeous name."
From the day Annabelle Andrews sashays into her classroom, Tallulah 'Lulu' de Longland is bewitched: by Annabelle, by her family, and by their sprawling, crumbling house tumbling down to the river.
Their unlikely friendship intensifies through a secret language where they share confidences about their unusual mothers, first loves, and growing up in the small coastal town of Juniper Bay. But the euphoria of youth rarely lasts, and the implosion that destroys their friendship leaves lasting scars and a legacy of self-doubt that haunts Lulu into adulthood.
Years later, Lulu is presented with a choice: remain the perpetual good girl who misses out, or finally step out from the shadows and do something extraordinary. And possibly unforgivable . . .
It's not how far you fall, but how high you bounce.
Whether it was because I didn't read the summary carefully enough or what, I'm not sure, but I was expecting something different from Walking on Trampolines. Something more solely focused on Lulu and Annabelle's teen and young adult years. Frances Whiting's novel is so much more, though. It's really an astounding read.
The quote, from Liane Moriarty, that's on the front of the book, "a tender exploration of friendship, families, and first love," could not be more true. A lot of ground, a lot of years are covered in the 368 pages: from Annabelle and Tallulah meeting in school, becoming best friends, their teen years together, their interactions with each other's families, the end of that friendship, and what follows.
Whiting created a really interesting dynamic with Lulu and Annabelle's friendship. Both girls are from families that are, in their own way, not quite conventional; though it's more readily apparent with Annabelle's family. How the two of them fit together, how they fit with each other's families shows us a lot of who the girls are. Their friendship is undeniable.
Their differences (individually and of their families, parents) really show us who the characters are. The involvement of their whole families, of the drama and/or difficulties therein not only fills out the girls' characters, it makes the story that much more engrossing. I like the characters the author's created in their parents. They're different and I loved seeing the different impacts each had on Lulu and Annabelle.
Then when their friendship in ruins, the story continues being great. Whether Lulu and Annabelle want the other in their lives anymore doesn't quite matter. They may be out of sight, but they can never quite be out of mind. Their lives were so intertwined for so many years, there just can't be a clean break.
As enjoyable as it was to read about their friendship, this part was at least as good. We see Lulu on her own, what her life without Annabelle as a best friend looks like. Where things went from here, the new characters introduced, the older characters we really got to know, the growth of Lulu's character, were fantastic.
A lot - a lot - happens after Lulu and Annabelle's friendship implodes. To say much at all of what would be spoilery and no fun, but do know that it's great. I absolutely enjoyed France Whiting's novel and am looking forward to her next one, whatever it may be.
review copy received, via NetGalley, from publisher