Reading is something I do less often since having my little Khy Khy. Prior to motherhood, I would easily plough through a book every couple of weeks. Nowadays I’d be lucky to get through one per month. That is of course, unless I’m truly engrossed in a ‘can’t put down-able’ read. You know the kind where you stay up untill some ungodly hour totally immersed in the chapters, and before you know it, you’ve fallen asleep with your glasses on and the pages of the book lying face down on your cheeks. Mmmm, well this very same thing happened to me on several occasions while reading the brilliant Ice Cream Girls by author Dorothy Koomson. Before I go on to tell you about the book itself, can we just take a few moments to applaud the sublimely talented Ms Koomson. Dorothy is one of the most celebrated new talents in the women’s contemporary fiction world. Ice Cream Girls is the author’s 6th novel, which as we know in the touch-and-go world of book publishing is quite an achievement. One of Dorothy’s previous novels, My Best Friend‘s Girl, was selected for a Richard and Judy Summer Read and went on to sell an impressive 500,000 copies.
I first learnt of Dorothy Koomson - the author, when one of her books ‘Goodnight, Beautiful’ landed on the editorial desk at Pride. The girls in the office all read the book and gave it a glowing report. As for me? I just couldn’t go there. The novel is based on a Mother whose life is torn apart when her son falls into a coma after a freak accident. As a Mother of a young boy that was just a little to scary a prospect to even contemplate. So I left it well alone. So anyhow, back to Ice Cream Girls. A few weeks ago I received an advance copy of the book and decided to give it a go. By the first couple of pages: I was hooked. To give you a brief rundown without giving too much away: the book follows two women whose lives become inextricably linked through an incident which occurs during their mid teens. Serena and Poppy are both young, vulnerable schoolgirls who become romantically involved with an abusive and manipulative teacher. Things come to head in a climatic scene leading to a whodunit type situation to rival the who killed Archie storyline in Eastenders (wasn’t that brilliant by the way?) Dorothy’s magic is her spot on characterisation. Lead protagonists, Serena and Poppy feel real and tangible, you inadvertently take on their emotional baggage as they attempt to navigate through life carrying the heavy burden of their insufferable past. By the end of the book you’re rooting for both women, hoping they’ll stop warring against each other and realise they were both victims. I love when a book forces you to think when you read the closing page. I was left thinking about how real an issue sexual abuse is in schools. I went to quite a regular comprehensive in south London, and lost count of the amount of girls who were dating guys at least 10-15 years their senior. I wonder what happened to them? Like Serena and Poppy, are they still dealing with the consequences of their actions, all these years later? Yup, The Ice Cream Girls will take you there, so be prepared to do a lot of post-book reflecting. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It had all the elements I love in a novel - non stop drama, great characters, a message and an unpredictable ending. If you do get round to buying a copy, I’d love to hear what you think.
The Ice Cream Girls is out now. Order a copy from Amazon.