Coo is trying to cope with the hand that life has dealt her. At sixteen, she feels she’s too young to have lost her older brother, Sam, to alcoholism. She’s skipping school to avoid the sympathy and questions of her friends and teachers, and shunning her parents, angry that they failed to protect her, and desperate to avoid having to face the fact that, towards the end, she began to wish Sam would leave forever – even die. Then, one day, truanting by the Brighton seafront, Coo meets Banks, a homeless alcoholic and she’s surprised to discover that it is possible for her life to get more complicated.Despite warnings from her friends and family, Coo and Banks develop an unlikely friendship. Brought together through a series of unexpected events, strange midnight feasts, a near drowning and the unravelling of secrets, together they seek their chance for redemption. That is, until Coo’s feelings start getting dangerously out of hand.
I probably wouldn’t buy the book based on the cover alone. This book is a realistic look on how alcoholism can affect the people closest to you. This is the genre/style of book I normally enjoy, and Stones didn’t let me down. Coo is a teenager dealing with some heavy stuff. Her brother Sam was an alcoholic who dies. Before he died, he did terrible things. He hit the people in his family and stole from them. Sam was out of control. Their parents did everything they could to help him, including paying for courses to get him back on track, giving him money, putting up with his abuse, and lying to the police. While they are doing everything they can for Sam, they basically cast Coo off on her own. They do not protect her from Sam’s attacks or threats. After his death Coo still is not comfortable around her family, because of how invisible she was to them during Sam’s life. Coo is glad that Sam is dead, but feels very guilty over this, and believes that she caused his death. She is given leeway at school since his death, so it is often that she does not go at all. While she is skipping school she ends up meeting a homeless man named Banks. She feels comfortable around Banks, and tells him all of the secrets she can’t tell anyone else about how Sam and her parents have treated her. I also think she finds comfort in Banks being an alcoholic since Sam is gone. She ends up going to see Banks very often, and one of his crazy friends Alec instantly hates Coo. He tries to attack her every time he sees her, and ends up stalking her, and leaving beer cans at her door. Strangulations start happening around town, and the only thing the victims can remember is the smell of the person, so it is most likely a tramp. Coo suspects Alec, and tries to talk to Banks about it on several occasions, but she can tell he is protecting his friend. Everyone who knows she is hanging out with Banks tells her not to, and seems concerned, but not enough to stop her. She keeps trying to help Banks, and make him stop drinking. Eventually her friend Joe goes to confront Banks, and when Coo arrives to stop him, Joe is being attacked by Alec. She tries to get Banks to help but he will not. Eventually Alec attacks Coo, and Banks tries to protect Alec from the police, not Coo from Alec, and she realizes she was never his friend at all. The book does end with some closure from Coo and her family (after she is almost killed, but better late than never.) I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
PS: How do you feel about dark and gritty novels?