I’m delighted to be sharing my review today of a book that every teenager should read! It’s my stop on the blog tour for Always Here For You by Miriam Halahmy.
What’s this book about?
14-year-old Holly is lonely. Holly’s parents are never around after Gran’s Crisis and best friend Amy has moved across the Atlantic to Canada, loved-up with her new boyfriend, Gabe. Holly has no-one to hang out with at school apart from moody Ellen and misfit Tim – Madison and the bezzies barely notice her. Home alone in Brighton with no-one to talk to, Holly is at rock bottom. That is, until she finds Jay. Caring, funny and with so much in common, Jay is the perfect guy. They chat online, but Holly knows to be careful, she s heard the horror stories. As they grow closer and closer, chatting with Jay is all that makes Holly happy. Mum and Dad s rows get more intense and Amy’s radio silence continues; the only one who understands is Jay. As Holly lets her guard down, is Jay all he seems? Is Holly in too deep? And is it too late? Always Here For You is an unforgettable novel from acclaimed poet, novelist and special needs educator, Miriam Halahmy.
What did I think?
Always Here For You is a topical and relevant book that EVERY teenager (girls AND boys!) and their parents needs to read. It scared the hell out of me as the mother of daughters because it portrayed an incredibly realistic and chilling fictional experience that everyone needs to be aware of. And the fact that it has real life cases as it’s seeds is even more scary! Holly is going through a tough time. Her best friend has emigrated, her father works long hours and her mum is trying to combine her own job with looking after Holly’s nan, who is in increasing need of care. Holly finds her escape from the stresses of her school and home life in an online relationship with Jay. He’s not a stranger as he’s been introduced to Holly and her other friends on a social media channel. So it can’t be dangerous…can it!? As an adult, I could see why she was “targeted”, she was looking to belong and find her place amongst her peers. And I could also understand why she became so blind to what was probably very obvious to everyone around her. God, it’s a tough job parenting teenagers!! You want to give them the freedom they need but to shepherd them into it hoping you’ve given them the tools of confidence and self awareness to make decisions about what’s right and wrong.
Miriam Harahmy has inhabited the world of today’s teenagers to bring her readers a gripping, convincing and menacing account of one teenage girls experience. It made my skin crawl as the tension gradually crept upon me, reading the messages sent between Holly and Jay and hoping to goodness that I was wrong about my suspicions but knowing full well that I wasn’t. Thankfully, as parents, we are much more aware of the use of social channels to reach out to vulnerable young people nowadays but I know we are also still under pressure from teenagers to be allowed access to everything because (ofcourse!) all their friends are doing it!! So be aware of age restrictions on these media accounts and make sure your child is aware of what they should do if they are approached by someone they don’t know on line. Working in a school, I know that we spend a lot of time on this subject but unfortunately, it’s only when faced with it in real life that you know whether or not it’s gone in. I hope that this book will provide a talking point between teenagers and their parents but even it it isn’t, I hope that Miriam Halahmy’s cautionary and incredibly well crafted storyline will be remembered by everyone who reads it. Miriam Halahmy obviously has a huge affinity for today’s teenagers and the society they are growing up in and it shows in the empathetic way she moulds her characters then places them in situations to test their resilience. I adored this book as an adult and wish it had been around when my girls were Hollys age. And I’ve developed a love of Miriam Halahmys writing that’s sending me off to Amazon to check out her backlist as well.
Highly recommended by me!
Who’s the author?
Miriam Halahmy is a poet, special needs educator and novelist. She has worked with refugees in schools as well as in workshops she led for PEN and the Medical Foundation for the Victims of Torture. Her book Hidden was inspired by stories she heard from members of the Iraqi family into which she married. She lives in London. Her recent books include The Emergency Zoo, Yashmin’s Journey and Behind Closed Doors.