Troublemakers by Catherine Barter
Troublemakers is a beautifully written character-driven story. The rich multi-layered characters come to life on the pages against a well-developed background. But the pacing is slow in places and unless you’re as invested in the characters as I was this may bother you.
It’s like a second life, at the edges of this one, that comes into focus sometimes, and then fades away.
Focusing on the effects of grief and secrets big enough to destroy. On family dynamics and friendships. And at the centre is fifteen-year-old Alena and her family consisting of her older brother Danny and his life partner Nick. I loved that the family unit is not a traditional one, but that aside from the secret (and secrets have a way of getting out!) works really well. In all other respects, Danny and Nick make really good parents and Alena is so lucky to have them.
Everyone in the room looks pissed off and depressed so I fit right in.
Why then was I reluctant to pick it up? Although the abstract appealed enough to prod me into requesting the ARC (advanced review copy) it lay in my elibrary for ages before I literally had to read it or face a demotion in my Netgally percentage #bookwormproblems It was the cover that put me off. Please, publishers, take note: covers matter. This simplistic yellow cover is going to get noticed – for all the wrong reasons.
It’s hard not to feel self-conscious when someone is looking at you like you’re some tragic, miraculous woodland creature that’s just appeared.
The title is another bugbear. After reading the story I have no idea why it is called troublemakers. It gives the impression of a mischievous gang causing havoc. But does it portray the story? No, it really doesn’t. It portrays another story, one related but distant. Lena’s story needs her own title.
Author: Catherine Barter
Publication Date: 1 June 2017
Publisher: Andersen Press
Source: Review copy
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Fifteen-year-old Alena never really knew her political activist mother, who died when she was a baby. She has grown up with her older half-brother Danny and his boyfriend Nick in the east end of London. Now the area is threatened by a bomber who has been leaving explosive devices in supermarkets. It is only a matter of time before a bomb goes off.
Against this increasingly fearful backdrop, Alena seeks to discover more about her past, while Danny takes a job working for a controversial politician. As her family life implodes, and the threat to Londoners mounts, Alena starts getting into trouble. Then she does something truly rebellious. — Abstract from Goodreads.com
The fact that I received a complimentary advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.
Disclaimer: The quotes appear in my review copy and may not appear in the final version.