Skylarks by Karen Gregory (review)

Publication Date: July 2018

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Genre: Young Adult

Pages: 336

FOUR STARS

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Synopsis

When she was little, Joni used to have dreams that she could fly. But these days her feet are firmly on the ground – they have to be when money’s tight and her dad can’t work and the whole family has to pull together to keep afloat.

Then she meets Annabel. Annabel is everything Joni isn’t, and yet there’s a spark between them. Though Joni barely believes it at first, she thinks they might be falling in love.

But when Annabel’s parents find out about the relationship, it’s clear they believe there are some differences that are impossible to overcome …

Review

Skylarks is a sweet and somewhat confrontational read about the relationship between two girls. It delves into the main character’s family life, which is very dependent on money. Joni is constantly worrying about how her family is going to stay afloat, and her job at the library is necessary in helping out with the finances. At the library, a girl named Annabel starts volunteering, and Joni is initially struck by how privileged she is.

The main character, Joni, has qualities about her that felt very real and refreshing. Poverty is a big issue and it is something that effects many teenagers, so to see that in a young adult novel was impactful. Joni’s family are all very different and they are clearly an important part of her life, so I enjoyed reading about all their personalities. It was also good to see how the lack of money affected them all.

The relationship between Joni and Annabel was very sweet. The overall theme of the book covered the divide of wealth within small communities, so this heavily impacted on their relationship. It was interesting to realistically see how this may affect one’s relationship and I was able to feel empathy for both of them. Joni’s stress about her family’s poverty was heartbreaking, but a reality that is true for many people. There was also sadness within Annabel’s situation, which is something that many don’t realise when they think about wealthy people. It is a good message to give to young people; recognising that everyone has personal struggles is important. I was not expecting this book to be so heavy, but it worked really well in this case.

The novel is set in the UK. I don’t often read young adult books set in the UK, so it was a great experience for me to be able to understand more of what the culture is like. I loved the setting and could easily picture it in my mind – the whole concept read like two star-crossed lovers in a modern setting, while also battling a political crisis within their community. I love these kind of tropes and it was unique seeing it in an f/f young adult book.

I mostly liked Joni, but one thing that I didn’t like about her was that she was rather judgemental to Annabel and would even be a bit contradictory with her opinions. It would have been nice if she didn’t go back and forth with what she thought about Annabel’s wealth.

Skylarks is a beautiful novel that captures how wealth can impact the relationship between two teenagers. I would recommend it to those interested in the premise and/or those who like f/f books.

Thank you to Bloomsbury for the advanced reader copy that I received in exchange for an honest review.

About Karen Gregory

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Karen Gregory has been a confirmed bookhead since early childhood. She wrote her first story about Bantra the mouse aged 12, then put away the word processor until her first child was born, when she was overtaken by the urge to write. A graduate of Somerville College, Oxford, and a project coordinator by day, she’s become adept at writing around the edges. Strong coffee and a healthy disregard for housework help. Karen lives in Wiltshire, UK with her family.

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