The Places I’ve Cried in Public by Holly Bourne
I have loved every single one of Holly Bourne’s books I have read, so on picking this one up I knew it would leave me an emotional wreck.
The story follows Amelie, a musically talented year 12 who moves from the north to south of England with her mum and her dad because her dad has a new job. The story is told from two time periods- present, after Amelie has broken up with Reese and the past, starting on Amelie’s first day at her new college. Amelie has left behind her friends and everything she knows and quickly makes new friends including a musical ‘bad boy’ Reese. In the past we see Amelie’s relationship change, while in the present we have Amelie’s reflections on everything that has happened to her as she goes to all the places she has cried because of Reese.
Amelie is a first-person narrator, seemingly a normal, relatable girl starting a new college, something many teenagers go through. She wears granny cardigans and vintage dresses and gets terrible stage fright and misses her friends back home terribly. The authentic, lovable persona of Amelie enhances the changes that happen throughout the story, how Amelie goes from a happy, hopeful girl with plans from the future to skipping lessons, sitting alone in the cafeteria and barely leaving her house.
The contrast between past and present is poignant, as Amelie slowly realise the mistakes she made and the red flags she missed while contemplating if there was anything she could have done to change the outcome. Watching Amelie come to terms with what is, quite obviously to the reader, an emotionally abusive relationship is heart-breaking, desperately begging Amelie to get rid of him while Reese manipulates Amelie repeatedly. Simultaneously, the reader can see why Amelie continues to go back to Reese however horrible he is to her, the subtle digs and preying on her vulnerability that allowed him to isolate her.
This book beautifully illustrates what a healthy relationship looks like, and what definitely isn’t a healthy relationship, as well as showing the nuances that mean it can be hard to get out of one. It is full of painfully real quotes about being in an abusive relationship, and I would definitely suggest checking some out (you can find them on the goodreads page). I didn’t connect with Amelie as much as I did with characters in some of Holly’s other books, but then again I have never been in any kind of relationship so that’s pretty understandable. This book does contain some sensitive topics, based around an abusive relationship, so just be careful if you are not okay with reading about that kind of thing.
If you haven’t read any of Holly’s other books I highly recommend them, they perfectly create what it is to be a teenager and various other issues.