I am Winter by Denise Brown

Published: November 11, 2021

Hashtag Press

I received a copy of this book for free, and I leave my review voluntarily.

Denise Brown is a writer, housekeeper, and single parent of five children. Her debut novella Devil on Your Back was published by Salt in 2014, and her short stories have featured in various online publications. In 2019 she was longlisted for the Bath Novel Award. Born in East London, Denise has now settled in Scotland, where she feels certain she must have lived in a previous life. She loves dogs and snow globes and has a teensy obsession with Jack Skellington.

“Without judging, she’s sharing my pain.”

Summer thinks she is living her best life, with her best friend Cee at her side. She was 15 but acting much older, going to parties, pubs and getting in cars with boys. Life is nearly perfect until a tragic accident leaves Summer without her best friend.

This was a very well-plotted book about being young, sad, and attempting to navigate grief. I found this story dark and spent a lot of the story wanting to hug Summer.

Summer is our main narrator, and her life is complicated. She has a mom who is interested when she wants to be but who tends to treat Summer like a friend instead of a daughter. Summer dances a fine line between being a 14-year-old child and wanting to be a grown adult. I found the way she was written very cleverly.

Cee is the best friend Summer really never expected. Seemingly carefree and constantly fun, despite having a less than ideal home life, Cee appears to be everything Summer isn’t.

The way grief is handled in this book felt authentic, so the turmoil rolling around inside Summer’s head was very well crafted.

There was an exciting mix of truth and fantasy interwoven throughout this story. The life Summer has created in her mind to counteract the bad things in her actual life is heartbreaking and genius.

The mix of acceptance and forgiveness throughout this story was well done, and I found the internal dialogue Summer often had very authentic.

This was a quick read, with a plot that made the book impossible to put down. I found the plot refreshingly raw and unique, with the best and worst of humanity displayed.

Secrets and lies and all too human emotions roll off the pages in a vulnerable way that keeps you engaged. Definitely one of the best YA novels I’ve read recently.

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