Stones by Polly Johnson

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Coo is trying to cope with the hand that life has dealt her. At sixteen, she feels she’s too young to have lost her older brother, Sam, to alcoholism. She’s skipping school to avoid the sympathy and questions of her friends and teachers, and shunning her parents, angry that they failed to protect her, and desperate to avoid having to face the fact that, towards the end, she began to wish Sam would leave forever – even die. Then, one day, truanting by the Brighton seafront, Coo meets Banks, a homeless alcoholic and she’s surprised to discover that it is possible for her life to get more complicated.

Despite warnings from her friends and family, Coo and Banks develop an unlikely friendship. Brought together through a series of unexpected events, strange midnight feasts, a near drowning and the unravelling of secrets, together they seek their chance for redemption. That is, until Coo’s feelings start getting dangerously out of hand.

This was a really good coming of age young adult novel. Coo was an amazingly developed character. She’s dealing with her feelings on the death of her brothers and how her family is reacting to it. Her parents practically ignore her and act as if her brother was a saint not an abusive alcoholic and she doesn’t understand why they expect her to mope and mourn about his death when all he brought was fear when he was alive. I was really able to get into this story and read it in one day. I really understood why Coo felt the way she did and put herself in dangerous situations. She made it clear that she just wanted her parents to notice her and care. While her brother was alive everything was about him. Whether or not he would attack them, steal from them, or never show up again and she just wants to feel loved by her parents. I thought it was interesting that she spent a lot of time with Banks who was also an alcoholic considering what she went through with her brother. Not only that but the fact that she drank herself. The dynamic between them was confusing at times. I kept feeling like she had a crush on Banks even though he was a bum but also that she trying to save him the way her brother couldn’t be saved. It was like she was in love with the idea of what could be not reality. Which is why sometimes I felt as though Coo should’ve been older. While reading the story she just seemed too mature to just be 16 even though she had her tantrum moments. I think it would’ve added something extra to the storyline. It was a really hood look into how an addiction and a death can change a family. I really liked the little elements in the story the author incorporated like finding a special stone and the ending was very bittersweet but fitting. Overall I enjoyed it and recommended this for a good read. I’m looking forward to reading other books by this author.

Thought Diary: ‘Why is it that when we really want to punish someone for how they’ve made us feel, it’s usually ourselves we end up hurting most?’ Me

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