Love in Revolution by B R Collins
|Love in Revolution by B R Collins
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy
|Summary: Haunting and painful but beautiful too, this is a story of revolution but also a young girl waking to love. There's rich prose, a real sense of place and a story that will stay with you. Highly recommended. B R Collins popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us.
|Date: August 2013
|External links: Author's website
Everyone in her village - in an unnamed Basque country - loves pello and Esteya is no different. It's the national sport and its heroes are national heroes. That the holder of the Kings Cup hails from her village is a source of pride to Esteya, her twin brother Martin, and everyone else. Except older brother Leon. So when the Bull comes home for a visit, everyone is excited. And when a young peasant boy challenges him to a game, everyone laughs. And when the peasant boy wins, everyone is shocked and discomfited. Except Leon. Leon, a communist sympathiser, sees it as a symbolic victory of the peasant over the dissolute regime of the King.
But that day comes to have a very different significance for Esteya. Because it's the day she meets Skizi, a gypsy girl shunned by all. From the first moment she sees Skizi at the pello match, all Esteya's thoughts, dreams and feelings are taken up by her. Esteya feels so much less than this strange, wild, abrupt girl that she can scarcely believe it when a secret love between them blooms. But revolution is upon them.
And after the Revolution, painfully and predictably, things don't improve. The new regime is as unsympathetic towards gypsies as the last - more so, even, since economic failure means it needs a scapegoat - and Skizi's life becomes worse, not better. Esteya's family are lucky - thanks to Leon, they have more food than everyone else and they're in less danger of being "disappeared". But disappearances are even more common than they were under the King and denunciation is encouraged. There are shortages in everything: water, power, food, freedom. You know things can't end well. For Esteya and her family, for Skizi, and even for Leon. And they don't.
Eventually, Esteya finds herself in a terrible position with an agonising decision to make...
I loved, loved, loved Love in Revolution. I'll just say that again for the hard of hearing. I loved, loved, loved it. It's so rich with a sense of place. I believed in Collins's imaginary Basque country completely. I was completely absorbed by the descriptions of the games of pello (you'll want Angel to win, trust me). I lived the hopes and dreams and dashed disappointments of the revolution. I felt a painful pity for the people forced into denunciations just to survive. But more than anything, I felt inside Esteya's skin as her obsessive love for Skizi developed and she was forced to hide it, even from her beloved twin Martin. There is so much in the pages of this novel, every reader will find a reward.
And I just want to say - this story has the best ending EVER! Really and truly. It's often a sad book to read. And it describes a situation and an environment that is hopeless for so many. You couldn't end it with a fairytale happy ending but you don't want to leave your readers so traumatised that they turn the last page then rush off to drink the Kool Aid. All I'll say is that Collins does neither. For the last third of the novel, I was wondering how on earth it would all end - how on earth it could all end. I didn't see it coming, but it was great. I ended Love in Revolution feeling absolutely satisfied and I can't tell you how much of an achievement I think this was.
B R Collins is proving to be a writer of great quality and truly unexpected versatility. I can't recommend Love in Revolution highly enough. To both adult and young adult readers. It's wonderful.
This is a book that truly straddles the space between YA and adult fiction. Adults will also enjoy something like Atonement by Ian McEwan or The Madonna on the Moon by Rolf Bauerdick (although we had our reservations about the latter) while younger readers could look at The Road of Bones by Anne Fine or I Am David by Anne Holm.
You can read more book reviews or buy Love in Revolution by B R Collins at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Love in Revolution by B R Collins at Amazon.com.
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