Tallulah de Longland,’ she said slowly, letting all the Ls in my name loll about lazily in her mouth before passing judgement. ‘That,’ she announced, ‘is a seriously glamorgeous name.’
From the day Annabelle Andrews sashays into her classroom, Tallulah ‘Lulu’ de Longland is bewitched by Annabelle, by her family, and their sprawling, crumbling house tumbling down to the river.
Their unlikely friendship intensifies through a secret language where they share confidences about their unusual mothers, first loves, and growing up in the small, coastal town of Juniper Bay. Their lives become as entwined as Annabelle’s initials engraved beneath the de Longland kitchen table.
But the euphoria of youth rarely lasts, and the implosion that destroys their friendship leaves lasting scars and a legacy of self-doubt that haunts Lulu into adulthood.
Years later, Lulu is presented with a choice: remain the perpetual good girl who misses out, or finally step out from the shadows and do something extraordinary. And possibly unforgiveable.
It’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce.
This is a book that grew on me. As I turned each page, I became more immersed in the story of Tallulah de Longland. When it ended, I simply wanted it to go on. The story spans a few decades, with Tallulah (Lulu) reflecting back on the past and sharing her story of the present.
It starts out with Lulu meeting Annabelle at their Catholic school, St. Rita’s. Soon, they become the best of friends, developing their own language and creating a dictionary. Both come from eccentric families, with Lulu’s mom struggling with a mental illness that is never defined (but includes bouts of severe depression). While her mom, Rose, has her quirks, she loves her daughter immensely and loves to bake! Lulu has twin brothers, who aren’t main characters in the storyline, but still show how resilient children can be, in a home where someone is mentally ill. Both, Rose and Harry, are a couple who do what they can to provide for their children and help move them along to create their own adventures.
Lulu experiences first love with Josh, and the three of them (Annabelle, Lulu, and Josh) become inseparable. Something happens and Lulu’s life stalls. Annabelle and Josh move on, and it isn’t until Lulu moves in with a friend, that she meets the infamous Duncan. Lulu develops her own voice and draws the line (so to speak), with Duncan, which sparks a life long friendship that is so endearing and heartfelt! Duncan has his own issues, one being that he loves women with the letter “K”. It is through Duncan’s own journey, that Lulu comes into her own and embraces who she is.
Because Lulu grew up Catholic, it made sense to see how much Lulu struggles to accept happiness and gifts from others. However, through the course of the book, she learns to forgive herself, forgive those she loves, and embrace the adventures that her family and Duncan very much want for her life.
Frances Whiting is a debut author, who wrote this book, with the setting being in Australia. So, there is some Australian lingo, mate. However, it doesn’t come across confusing or difficult to follow. This story has so many beginnings and endings, throughout the novel, that it really seems like this novel could have been a sequel of sorts. Reading the interview at the back of the book, I was simply amazed that this book was a labor of love that took 7 years to write!! The novel doesn’t show this at all, as it is seamless, quite relevant, and has a great rhythm to it.
While it could easily have been a “girl meets boy” tale, Frances takes the story even deeper and brings forth issues that happen in real life-which makes it quite relatable to anyone. Frances also raises serious issues about friendships, boundaries, infidelity, health issues, starting over, and finding love. Frances shows that everyone has flaws, have journeys that sometimes intersect with their past, and above all, that everyone deserves a second chance.
This was a beautiful novel that I enjoyed. I cried, laughed, and simply loved the way every character has his/her own personal challenges to overcome, yet no one is ever truly alone to experience those. The title didn’t make a whole of sense to me, until I read the interview Frances gave. Then, it made perfect sense. Like a trampoline, there are dips, falls, and times you are soaring in the air! Overall, an excellent book that I highly recommend!
P.S. I do hope Frances considers writing a sequel to this novel! There are so many adventures for Lulu and her family and friends to share with all of us!!
*This book was provided by the publisher and NetGalley. No forms of compensation were given.
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