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A grippingly authentic account of coercive control, with a powerful message about breaking free and rediscovering your own mind.
From passionate, all-consuming love-at-first-sight, to possession, obsession, jealousy and control, the subject of emotional abuse in relationships is here explored from every complex, confusing angle. What a devastatingly vital feat of YA fiction this is.
Talented country songwriter Gemma has just started college and feels like she’s riding a wave of change: “Starting college feels like such a massive step, like suddenly the world’s got that much wider.” And then a further tidal wave sweeps Gemma up when she locks eyes with a handsome stranger – Aaron, a charismatic young app-developer who overwhelms her with big romantic gestures and expensive gifts that seem to show how much he gets her, far more than her family do, as Aaron is wont to remind her. He points out that Gemma’s passion for songwriting will always play second fiddle to her brother’s football talent, that her friends don’t appreciate her like he does. Before Gemma knows it, Aaron’s controlling, manipulative ways seep through her veins like an undetected virus and, when he isolates her from her loved ones, her world closes in, with shattering repercussions.
At once tense, compassionate and (importantly) brutally honest, readers will plead with Gemma, rage at Aaron, and gasp as the crippling extremes of his toxic behaviour are made manifest. But there’s a glimmer of light through the dark, especially in the form of Gemma’s friends – Ghanaian feminist Esi who warns her to slow down and step away, and kind-hearted Callum, her loyal music partner.
The tense, tender must-read book of the summer - perfect for fans of Louise O'Neill and Sara Barnard
`You make me feel like there's something good in the world I can hold on to,' Aaron says. He kisses me again, draws me so close it's almost hard to breathe. `I love you, Gem. And I promise I'll hold your heart forever.'
When Gemma meets Aaron, she feels truly seen for the first time. Their love story is the intense kind. The written-in-the-stars, excluding-all-others kind. The kind you write songs about. But little by little their relationship takes over Gemma's life. What happens when being seen becomes being watched, and care becomes control? Told in both Gemma's and Aaron's words, this is a raw, moving exploration of gaslighting in teenage relationships that skewers our ideas of what love looks like.
Praise for Skylarks;
This moving romance, with its well-drawn working-class heroine, its examination of power, politics and protest, and its clarion call to make courageous choices, represents all that's best in British YA - Guardian
An authentic, hopeful-but-not-saccharine account of contemporary life - Irish Times
Praise for Countless;
A heartbreaking, hopeful and highly unusual debut - Imogen Russell Williams, Metro,
Insightful, authentic and profoundly moving ... This is an important, impactful, mightily impressive debut about love, reaching out and taking one step at a time - Lovereading4kids
|Publication date:||11th July 2019|
|Publisher:||Bloomsbury YA an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC|
|Suitable for:||YA readers|
|Genres:||Family / Home Stories, Romance / Relationship Stories|
Karen Gregory has been a confirmed bookhead since early childhood. She wrote her first story about Bantra the mouse aged twelve, then put away the word processor until her first child was born, when she was overtaken by the urge to write. A graduate of Somerville College, Oxford, and a project coordinator by day, she's become adept at writing around the edges. Strong coffee and a healthy disregard for housework help. Karen lives in Wiltshire with her family. Countless is her first novel.More About Karen Gregory