Caddie (short for Cadnam; don’t ask!) and Rosie are best friends. Truly best friends though they now go to different schools. Then Suzanne arrives in Rosie’s class – beautiful, dazzling, outrageous and troubled Suzanne. Can three girls be best friends? And what does being a best friend mean?
Sara Barnard in her debut novel is treading familiar ground; there is the shy, unassuming teenager still in her chrysalis, longing to be a butterfly; there is the catalyst with her troubled background and dangerous fascination; there is the first person narrator. The content is nothing new. And yet, Sara Barnard has managed to create a narrative that has a welcome freshness. Told from the point of view of Caddy but not in the (ubiquitous) present, the voice has a confidence and assurance that is impressive. These are very real girls that the reader can get to know. Certainly it is very much based in the contemporary world – references to shops, bands, technology that will inevitably date, but the emotions, situations, the characters will remain familiar. What is particularly refreshing is the absence of romance. If this sounds boring, it is far from it. At the heart of her novel, providing a rich emotional backdrop, is the friendship between three very different characters.
This is Sara Barnard’s first novel. She is clearly a talent to watch.