I’m talking to you as a friend now. And I’m telling you to keep your head up and keep moving forward – Estelle Maskame.
Estelle Maskame is a genius when it comes to teenage chick lit filled with heartbreak, typical American High School Drama with a capital D, and trouble. The story of Eden and Tyler – one that captured the world – will always remain my absolute favourite of her stories because I remember being absolutely addicted to the books, so much so that I stayed up all night to read them. That doesn’t mean that her future stories will never live up to the unrequited, tortuous, irresistible love that we witnessed on the pages of the DIMILY series and Just Don’t Mention It. Nevertheless, it is a high bar to set and one that will be hard to top, even from the master herself.
The latest in Maskame’s books centres on Vanessa. She is a character who seems complicated, but is actually exceptionally easy to read, so much so the boy she just met figures her out in one fell swoop. Her weekends are spent boozing, partying and getting up to no good with boys she doesn’t particularly care for. Her evenings are spent as far away from home as possible because of the suffocation and the hollow void that sucks all of her energy every time she steps over the threshold of a place that used to be full of warmth, laughter and safety. Not to mention boundaries. Now, the rules are out of the window and nobody stops her from doing what she wants. Instead, it is she who has to make that decision between what is right and what is wrong, and she makes a wrong decision which ends up making her the laughingstock of the school, and much, much worse.
One wrong decision, as fate has it, leads her to lock eyes with the new boy at school. He is tall, dark, handsome, the classic brooding type from afar, but once they share a common enemy, Kai’s fun side comes out in all colours. He is cheeky, charming, childish at times and a different style of character that Estelle has written before. Comparing him to Tyler, the looks could almost be identical, but his way of life is so open and so carefree that it is refreshing to read on the page. There is a reckless nature to him, but it is his carefree side which fills the words with a brightness that is addictive, enthralling and so cute that you can’t help but smile. He is honest; he doesn’t keep secrets (for very long) and truth be told, I was waiting for him to do something terrible so I’d have to love the bad boy all over again – a standard feeling in Estelle Maskame books. The real bad boys in this one, however, are the type that you just hate.
The Wrong Side of Kai is an easy, obsessive read, if a little audacious in tone and repetitive in writing. The compulsion of Vanessa and Kai make you wonder what will happen next and as their relationship blooms, it is the start of something that neither of them see coming. Not only is it riddled with teenage romance, there are extremely important themes too. The inequality between men and women is certainly an issue within the story: Vanessa is called a slag whilst her sexual partner (who leaked a video) is hailed as a hero and can go about his daily business as though nothing has happened. Despite there being two people in the video, only one is slandered, only one is ridiculed, and only one has her life messed up. It touches on the subject that is still so relevant in our times. Women are penalised for having a healthy sexual appetite, whilst men are praised for it. Women shy away from their encounters whilst men brag about them – not all, of course, but a vast majority. It covers another issue, one that has been on everybody’s lips since the beginning of social media, but even more so recently. Online trolling causes an immense amount of pain. Words cut like a knife, even more than brutal punches at times. Once those words are circling, they can never be taken down, whereas a black eye will fade within a week or so.
The Wrong Side of Kai is a book about revenge, making choices and living with bad decisions. It has a commentary on what it’s like to lead a young woman’s life in the age of social media and it shows that not all females necessarily want that generic happily ever after, at least until they’ve found the right person where things might just become a possibility. More importantly, it is about love and the lengths you’ll go to be seen and heard by those who are closest to you.
Estelle Maskame’s latest book is out now!
Love, Faye xo