I received a copy of this novel, from the publishers, in return for an honest review...
1972. A fictional island near Manhattan. A summer of sex, drugs and not so much rock and roll. A summer of unwanted pregnancies, tripping on a variety of pills and hanging out on street corners. Not a glamorous life for teenager, Kate, but the only life she knows. Along with a posse of girlfriends and a wide circle of local druggies, she remains slightly on the edge of this crazy world, within reason but without any judgment. The village is no longer what it once was, in the roaring 20s, but the kids are conent to be there, regardless of how it drags them down. An unfolding tale of despair, loyalty and hope. This debut novel is a brave look at the hazy, drug filled 1970s, viewed from a different angle to the norm. Less hippy and more street smart. Less 'Flowers in your hair' and more 'Sympathy for the Devil'.
A debut novel with real bite, Tinder Press have landed on their feet by signing this author. The writing is just outstanding, each chapter like a short story, giving the reader glimpses of Kate's life on Elephant Beach, NY. Her patchwork group of friends are all content with their mediocre lives in the grim seaside town. Most girls are dying to lose their virginity, fall pregnant and walk down the aisle, all in that order. They dream of the perfect marriage, sweet little houses and adoring husbands. Unfortunately, they dream of this without really thinking it through. Not many boyfriends stick around, there is no money for dream homes or weddings, and contraception is normally thought of far too late. The girls have seen what teen pregnancy has done to their classmates, but it doesn't deter them.
All through this book, they pop pills and smoke cigarettes non-stop. They drink until they fall down and take risks with their sexual health all the time. The lectures of their parents fall on deaf ears and the local drunk even warns them to watch out. The Vietnam War seems like another world to this group and other than seeing some changes in returning veterans, they seem oblivious to the effects of this War.
The story starts off with a large cast of characters. I had to re-read a few pages to catch up. Then I was hooked. Choppy and realistic, the chapters read like a veritable feast of mini-stories, all blended together to make this delicious tale of a hidden 1970s America. One of no hope, no glory and no ambition. Kate is the only exception. She dreams of a better life. Not one that will remove her too far from Elephant Beach, but one that will raise her spirits and her standards. She is a beacon shining through the dull, lifeless, drug filled personalities of her generation. Judy Chicurel has created a wonderful new voice in fiction. A no-frills approach to a decade of drugs. Racism is rampant and War ignored. It is refreshing to read something so honest, and I applaud both the author, and the publishers for taking this risk. It has paid off. A clever, razor sharp novel that will stay with you long after completion.
If I knew you were going to be this beautiful is published by Tinder Press on 30th October 2014, in hardback and ebook format.