Facing The Sun by Janice Lynn Mather

Everything is about to change for four girls who live on Pinder Street, in Nassau. They have grown up together on the beach which now has been claimed by it’s private owners who are proposing to build a hotel.

Eve is a repsonsible oldest child of the preacher, who helps out so much with her family but is almost invisible to her parents, who leave her out when her father gets sick. Faith is a beautiful dancer who seems carefree, but hides how ill her mother is and is often left to care for her alone. Nia’s mother is so overprotective of her that she longs to break free by attending a local Summer art camp, but she feels that the only way she can get in is to use someone elses work. And Keekee’s father seems to have no time for her, and her mother takes in strays and gives desperate girls free condoms.

It’s a book about these girls, but also the way that lives overlap on the street. Everyone knows everyone, and they are a community, the kids all growing up together. While their family is the people they live with, it’s also each other and each others siblings. The change may be good for some people, if they get work at the hotel. It may mean a better way of life, but it may also disrupt this sense of comfort and belonging.

The cover art of this book is really pretty, which drew me to it immediately. I loved hearing about the lives of these girls and these people, who live in a place and a lifestyle so different than mine. I felt like I could smell the salt, hear the ocean, and smell fallen guava fruit. I love books that allow you to see into other places and lives like this. I think it’s so important to read widely and books like this are so fascinating to me. I loved hearing what they were eating and the routine of their lives. The author is from the Bahamas herself, but it was kind of neat to see that she lives in the same city as me now. (Sidenote: Her photo is on the publishers website and she’s absolutely beautiful).

I liked the way the book takes on lots of things in a really honest way. There’s plenty going on in this book, family drama, things unspoken. betrayals between friends, but the book also talks about falling in love, sex and periods. It feels so down to earth about these things, which is really refreshing.

The book is broken up between the four girls, and when it changes character, their name will appear to let you know who is speaking, and then the book is in the first person. I found this a little challenging sometimes. Four girls is a lot to keep straight, and sometimes I forgot who was speaking. And with the story of these four, with all the ins and outs of their story, while plenty happens, it felt a little long and sometimes, dare I say it, slightly soapy.

On the whole, though, I did like this book, and I think the author has a great grasp on teenage girls and the struggle of entering the adult world as a girl. There’s a lot of pressure on these four, and I felt really annoyed at their parents unfairness sometimes, which is exactly how you do feel as a teen.

Read It If: with plenty of drama and a really interesting setting, Mather hauls you in and introduces you to some great characters, though it has some mature themes and may be a little long for some.

Thank you Simon & Schuster Canada for the advance copy of this book for review. All thoughts are my own honest opinons.

Facing The Sun is out August 11th

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