This is not a Love Story by Keren David
|This is not a Love Story by Keren David|
|Reviewer: Julia Jones|
|Summary: Atmospheric, attractive and escapist. A coming of age story about three teenagers in Amsterdam, suitable for adults as well.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 352||Date: May 2015|
|External links: Author's website|
This is a perfect holiday read – but that doesn't mean you need to be on holiday to read it. This Is Not A Love Story will waft you away from your bed or your fireside or your tube train seat and relocate you to Amsterdam.
You can cycle through the Vondelpark, hunt for quirkily stylish bargains the Pijp, wander beside the canals or spend long hours discussing love and life in exotic restaurants, cafés and coffee shops. Kitty and her mother have re-located there to make a new start after her father's death and her sister's departure for university. There might be a romance waiting for Mum in Amsterdam but Kitty sets out as a tall, shy teenager who doesn't wear makeup and has not yet managed to enjoy kissing. Plus there's something about Kitty that she doesn't want anyone to know.
Theo has been exiled to Amsterdam, send away from his North London home and the school where he's doing so well, to stay with his newly married cousins and attend the British Tutorial College there. In London Theo has done much more than kiss and his family are shocked. Plus there is something big that they are not telling him.
Ethan lives in Amsterdam already. His mother is always abroad on intense and dangerous humanitarian missions and his father (they are divorced) is obviously attracted to Kitty's mother. Can Ethan accept Kitty as his susje (little sister)? Will her and Theo's shared North London Jewish connections bring them together or push them apart? And so the complications begin.
One of the joys of a holiday is to be someone that you're not – such as sixteen year olds moving to one of the coolest of the modern European cities. Kitty seizes the opportunity of a new place to re-style herself as well as her life. She has a gift for arrangement and colour and presents her new self through the medium of Instagram and Facebook. From being a person with only twenty people at school who even knew her name, she becomes someone with thousands of likes and followers. I am Kitty, she learns to say, I am magnificent!
Theo brings more baggage with him on his voyage of self-discovery. He is the character who makes the most mistakes and has most to learn. As readers we have probably met Theo's type before and the author allows us to come close to him. He is academically clever, emotionally immature, at odds with his family and only gradually learning to accept the ways they are bound together. There is a scene back in London in the synagogue when the male members of Theo's family pray together at Yom Kippur which was particularly well done.
Ethan, the third in this unstable triangle, is deliberately secretive and enigmatic. We are not given his point of view directly – like Kitty and Theo we have to work him out. This is skilfully managed and other readers may feel, as I do, that Ethan is the character who evokes the most sympathy of all, because he so rarely asks for it.
If relationship difficulties and adolescent angst is what you go on holiday to leave behind, fear not. This Is Not A Love Story is not an emotionally gruelling read – much less so than Keren David's excellent previous book Salvage. It's readable, it's pleasurable and if there is a tiny bit too much tying up of plot-ends in the final chapter – well you don't want to leave unpleasantness behind when you've been on such an attractive escape.
I'd certainly recommend Salvage by Keren David and, whilst in Amsterdam with Jewish teenagers it would be inexcusable not to have read, or at least thought about, The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. We also have a review of David's Stranger.
You can read more book reviews or buy This is not a Love Story by Keren David 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 This is not a Love Story by Keren David at Amazon.com.
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