What a delicious book Truly, Madly, Amy is.
I’ve never read any of Kerry Wilkinson’s books before. Truly, Madly, Amy is him going in a different direction, he usually writes crime fiction or thrillers. This does not fall into either of those genres; this is coming of age tale.
It’s 1999, Joe’s just finished his GCSE’s, he’s no idea what he’s going to do with his life; he’s still grieving for his dad who died the previous year; that’s left him angry on top of that, he’s accepted a job at the local summer camp and it’s safe to say it really isn’t his scene.
“Getting screamed at by hyperactive ten-year-olds is almost enough to make him quit on day one.
Then he sees Amy Ashworth for the very first time, her black hair shining in the sun – and learns that nothing hits harder than first love.”
It’s a story about growing up and that rush of first love. Mixed into that a big dollop of nostalgia. It is the perfect summer read filled with moments you’ll recognise, it’ll remind you of being a teenager.
Joe and Amy are about to have the summer of their (young) lives and he’ll never be the same again!
Amy teaches Joe how to enjoy himself.
She’s the only person he’s met who reads for fun, she’s the only person who’s taken him to wild parties and encouraged him to be unapologetically himself.
Amy crashes into Joe’s life at a time when he needs it most. His family is falling apart, he’s starting to view his friendships in a different light and is questioning why it is he’s still joining them in doing the same thing night after night (mainly getting drunk in a garage).
Amy pushes him into trying new things and making new friends, Joe soon finds the world opening up.
Amy has her own problems at home. On the outside it may seem as though she has it all. She comes from a privileged background, she’s grown up with money, had every opportunity handed to her, has a clear sense of who she is and what she wants to do; however, Amy’s parents treat her as an afterthought, she’s palmed off on various activities every summer – this summer’s job as a camp leader is the latest in a long line of summer’s away from home, her mother pays her no attention.
I loved how their relationship built slowly as they got to know each other; I liked how they both kind of tested the boundaries and engineered chance meetings to talk to each other; it was cute and very teenage crush.
I loved the realistic portrayal of what it was like to be a teenager, in the UK, in the 90s. That awkward age where you think you’re too old for youth groups and clubs and not old enough to be treated like an adult. I could picture Joe and his friends sneaking into clubs that didn’t check ID to drink sickly sweet alcopops. I could see the hordes of 16-year-olds gathering in the one pub in town that’ll serve them after they’ve picked up their GCSEs.
Joe and Amy’s messed up home lives means they’re both learning to trust other people and each other. Joe’s never felt brave enough to speak about losing his dad, his default setting when it comes to dealing with his grief and his mum’s depression is to lash out, he’s slowly learning there is a different way.
Although Truly, Madly, Amy is about teenage first love, it’s more than that. It’s as much about growing up. It’s about Joe figuring out who he is, discovering family secrets and new friends. It’s realistic, funny, heart-warming and just lovely.
Of course, with the clock ticking on their time together and as the summer days grow shorter, the question is will Joe and Amy stay together after the summer’s ended?
I won’t give away what happens, I will say I found the ending satisfying.
It reminded me a lot of Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls; if you haven’t read either, both are a must.
Truly, Madly, Amy will leave you with a smile on your face and remind you of your own carefree summers.
Have you read Truly, Madly, Amy? Did you enjoy it? I’d love to hear your thoughts
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