Our lives sometimes feel too intricate to have happened by chance – Rachel Cotton.
The first commendation for Rachel Cotton has to be for the fact that she is seventeen and has written and published a debut novel. The fact that she is so young needs to be applauded. Greatly. Writing is tough. It isn’t just the plot and the story, the characters and the setting, it is making the time to write thousands of words and continuing all the way to The End. I am in awe of this young writer and I know that she has a bright future ahead of her in Young Adult fiction and beyond.
Her first novel Nowhere Else But Here is the tale between two young people who are studying for their A Levels. Rose Valentine is intelligent in her school work. She has focus. She’s going to university and she will succeed. She has her entire life figured out. That is until her missing chemistry partner, Theo Lockhart, turns up at her door late at night. Theo, in turn, is a mystery. He keeps himself to himself, and Rose wants nothing more than to figure him out.
This story is a lovely one about falling in love for the first time. It is sweet and careless, just how falling in love at a tender age can be. Some of the anecdotes are a little predictable – like the jealousy of the beautiful popular girl and both secretly wanting to be together but being too stubborn to do anything about it – we’ve all thought of them happening as we’ve grown up reading love stories. However, some of the scenes between Rose and Theo genuinely brought a smile to my face as I resonated with the characters and their new, exciting feelings, bringing back memories of falling in love when I was eighteen, myself.
On the other hand, there are other scenes that were too clichéd for my personal taste, whether that is because I am older (hey nearly 26 year old who loves YA), or due to the writing style of that particular scene, I don’t know. Also, some of Rose’s reactions are, to me, overboard. Nevertheless, at the age of eighteen and falling for someone as quickly as she does, you can understand why her emotions are all over the place.
Although the love between Rose and Theo is the crux that holds the book together, there are other themes which are explored through Rachel’s writing. A teenager’s relationship with their parents is an important one, which is exemplified in different ways, primarily through Rose and Theo. The relationship between Rose and her parents is non-existent due to their heavy work loads. She feels as though she has been left behind, and through time she has gotten used to it. It is heart-breaking to watch a character be so blasé about never spending time with her parents, especially throughout a crucial part of her teenage years.
Theo’s relationship with his father is much more difficult. The way Rachel has written the heartache and confusion from Theo’s point of view is remarkable. There is a speech Theo makes in the novel which brings all of the emotions together and ties them into a neat little bow. Even Rose’s best friend’s parents are barely there, leaving the only constant adult to be Theo’s mum.
As with all YA fiction, a crucial theme is the identity of the character. Rose changes from a goody-little-two-shoes, which she hates being referred to as, to a young woman who knows her own mind and knows what she wants. She must break some rules in order to continue finding what she is looking for, something that all eighteen year olds do in order to find themselves that little bit more.
Oh, and Brent is the perfect big brother.
Nowhere Else But Here is out today! You can buy it online and at your local bookstores across the UK.
If you have read it, let me know what you think!
Love, Faye xo
* This book was kindly sent to me from the guys at Ink Road Books/Black & White Publishing but all views, as usual, are my own.