Stones by Polly Johnson

Stones by Polly Johnson is a book aimed at the YA (young adult) market.  This is ebook only and was published by Harper Collins through their Authonomy programme. Sometimes when I’ve read books which have originally been published online on sites like authonomy or wattpad I think they aren’t great and need a much better edit before publication than they’ve had but I didn’t find that with Stones. The writing was good, the plot worked well and I didn’t notice any errors.  Which means the process worked well.  I received my copy of Stones free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Here is the synopsis:

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.

It felt like a gritty, realistic look at grief and I liked it. Stones is not a happy book nor is it one I’d have necessarily chosen but as soon as I read the blurb I was intrigued by it.  It however probably won’t be the most memorable book I read this year.  It’s not long since I finished it (a couple of days) and I can remember what happened to the main character, Coo ( I love the name Coo, it’s short for Corrine which isn’t a short I’d have thought of but which works), but I couldn’t tell you how it ended for some of the other key supporting characters. That said I found this gripped me when I was reading it and I read it in big chunks over short periods.

As an adult the relationship between Coo and Banks had me wondering what her parents were doing that they didn’t realise exactly what she was doing.  But the secrecy of teenagers felt the same as it does in real life and that combined with their grief could well have made that happen.  So it’s an uncomfortable part but very necessary to the plot and one that could easily be true to life.  For great swarths of the book it feels as though Coo and her parents are adrift from each other and that Banks, inappropriate friend though he is, is all she has in terms of support. And that he does his best when it matters to be more than who he is and be what she needs.  Eventually however Coo does come to realise the truth as she and her parents heal from the trauma of Sam’s death.

According to Amazon, the ebook is the equivalent of 300 pages but I have to say it felt shorter than that to me and I would have guessed 200 pages.  Perhaps because it flowed so well that I kept going because there didn’t seem to be points where it felt necessary to put it down and take a break.  However long it is it’s the perfect length for the story and I was left neither wanting more nor wishing it would hurry up and end.  If I’m honest this is one of those books where I hope there won’t be a sequel because I feel that would feel contrived and ruin the end of this book. A good read but not one I’ll reread anytime soon.


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