Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
“That’s what they keep telling me. Over and over and over again. It’s for the best. We’re only thinking of you. Time heals everything.“
I’m not crying, you’re crying! Wow, I think I just found another favourite author! This book captured my attention from the very first moment I heard about it, and continued to do so until after reading that last page. In fact, I’m still in awe and I finished the book last week! I haven’t read much YA before but this book has just sold the genre for me completely and I’m already keen to see what this brilliant author comes up with next. I’m so honoured to be hosting today’s stop on the blog tour!
There are three sides to every story… It’s GCSE results day. Frankie’s best friend, Jojo, is missing. A baby has been stolen. And more than one person has been lying. Frankie’s determined to find out the truth and her ex-boyfriend Ram is the only person who can help her. But they’re both in for a shock… EVERYTHING is about to change.
When I read a book by a new author, I’m never too sure what to expect or how well I’ll take to the tone of voice. Williamson has nailed it! I instantly felt at home, and the light, humourous tone was so easy to read and felt so refreshing. We can relate to conversations had between characters and I quickly became addicted to the story, even though there wasn’t much revealed about the plot straight away. However, saying this, we do get one of the most gripping prologues I’ve EVER read and I was already eager to find out more about this! The prologue and how the main story starts seemed to be complete opposite sides of the spectrum, but I thought this would make the story even more unique. A flawless start and I already loved where the author was taking this!
The description of pretty much everything is so perfect and I found myself nodding in approval at just how impressive certain parts were! We get to know one character, Frankie, a lot throughout the beginning of the story and she was already someone we could relate to. After stumbling under police tape and finding herself in crime scene territory on the way to pick up her exam results, we’re left pondering exactly what the crime is, even though Frankie doesn’t give it a second thought at first. After her friend, Jojo, doesn’t return her calls, I was nervous and concerned for her safety, but at the same time, I felt excited at all the possibilities! When the news of a missing baby comes to light, we begin to make some connections. With burning questions in my mind, I needed to see how all these different factors linked together.
“I close my eyes. I’m sorry, Frankie. For everything.“
There is never a dull moment throughout the whole of the book’s opening, and the mystery elements surrounding the disappearing baby were simply superb. Frankie’s strength and determination to find her best friend should be applauded! However, the more pieces she puts together, the more the facts seem much more worrying and disturbing; could Jojo, her best friend – her sensible, law-abiding friend – have something to do with the missing baby? Reading the exact part where Frankie has this realisation made my heart sink, but it was still early days, and just a theory… for now. The author has such a unique way of telling the story which was incredibly addictive, and there was no way I could have taken a break at this point. Everything was so fast-paced (but written incredibly well) and was utterly pulse-quickening. It was everything I’d hoped for and more!
We’re soon introduced to Frankie’s ex, Ram, who I loved straight away, even though I expected the opposite. Frankie and Ram seem to get on rather well, and even though he doesn’t buy her theory about Jojo, he agrees to help her find her – I was excited to see what they’d find! I liked how the author takes us back in time every now and then to Frankie and Ram’s past, even describing Frankie and Jojo’s solid friendship, and it became even more worrying seeing just how much everything had changed since then. Just where was Jojo and what was her secret? Could she really be lying to Frankie and was she honestly capable of stealing a baby? I genuinely couldn’t fault the opening to the book and I was already taken aback with the information we learnt. I knew it would only get better when I reached part two of the book from Jojo’s point of view!
Oh my god, just how much more nail-biting could this story get?! Not only was the ending of Frankie’s telling of events a mega cliff hanger, but realising we get to hear from the points of view of different characters just took things to another level. At this point, we think we have a pretty good idea of what’s going on, but it isn’t long before we learn the truth – and what a shock it was! The author perfectly twists everything we’ve learnt into something we certainly don’t expect and I seemed to be in awe constantly with each new piece of information we get. In parts, the book was heartbreaking to read, purely because the characters seem so real and the events described are so vivid, but it was phenomenal just how the author brings everything to life. I’d definitely say this was one of her strong points! Things were so unpredictable and I loved how we’re always kept on our toes.
I really appreciated just how many topics the book covers which was perfect for the target audience; teenage relationships, friendships, homosexuality (Jojo’s mum and stepmum) as well as pregnancy in such an unexpected way. The delivery of it all is perfect and as well as giving the reader entertainment and filling them with a wide range of emotions, it also teaches lessons, what is normal and what is out of the ordinary. The book flowed exceptionally well and I was surprised by just how much my opinions of characters changed as I read. I started to get a kind of frustration towards certain characters as they started to take charge of Jojo’s life, like she didn’t have a say. I was so drawn into the story and I loved reading about Jojo’s reasons for fleeing, something that we didn’t expect when reading Frankie’s version of events.
“And when I cry for the first time in over two and a half years, he just places his hand on my shoulder and lets me, not saying a word.”
To my delight, after Jojo and Frankie finally begin to speak to one another about what was going on, we reach part three of the book – Ram’s version of events. After the absolute bombshell the author gives us, Ram is extremely significant to the story at this point, and my eagerness and intrigue wasn’t going away any time soon! As much as I loved this character, there was a new fact we learn that could split these three friends up for good. It was something I wasn’t sure could be forgiven by Frankie, even if their paths ended up going in a different direction before. We learn so much about the characters at this point as we go back in time once more, some of it rather emotional, especially as we hear of how Ram’s father passed away. It was beautiful to read and the author even made me tear up a bit!
The deep, meaningful conversations really complimented the story here and I loved it, especially as we explore an unexpected love. Even though reading this was emotional, the author nailed it yet again by mentioning the song, First Day Of My Life by Bright Eyes, a song that goes perfectly as the theme song for the book. From the first few notes I listened to, my whole experience of the book went beyond anything I could have dreamed of, and it was complete perfection. If you don’t cry at least a little bit here, there is something seriously wrong! I can’t even explain how I felt here, but it was actually pretty overwhelming. A little detail such as this transformed the whole story for me, even though I thought it was perfect before. As much as I couldn’t wait for the ending, I never wanted the book to end either!
I wasn’t sure whether the author could impress me much more than she already had, but she managed it in the fourth and final part of the book! The pace of the story only increased here as we focus on all the characters, trying to navigate their way through a tough and stressful time whilst trying to stay sane too. It was a lot for three teenagers to go through, but their rare bond was sure to get them through anything life threw at them, I just knew it! From Frankie’s frustration, Jojo’s desire to make amends and Ram’s processing of exactly how his life was changing made for some exciting reading once more, and how the author approaches these topics was flawless, as expected. I became worried about the path Frankie was taking in an unfamiliar place, and only prayed she’d see sense and give the others chance. Could the trio ever get back to how they used to be?
Even though, as a reader, I knew the story and how everything played out, it was still mesmerising hearing Jojo explain everything to Frankie. I hung onto every word from each of these characters as they talked things through, and I found myself hoping and praying that they’d at least be able to find some common ground. It’s clear they both need each other’s friendship, and it broke my heart that the circumstances they found themselves in threatened to tear them apart for good. The author has written everything with so much thought and attention to detail, and it felt like the two were having their important conversation in front of me in my living room. I was immersed in their words and desperate for a solution that suited everyone. Would they be able to reach one? I loved both of these characters equally and knew they needed each other more than ever!
“Thank you, for making me braver than I ever thought I could be.”
I also loved how Ram finds out so much more about himself within a few short hours – his whole world has been turned upside down, but not necessarily in a negative way. There was one particular scene with a police officer that made me tear up again, mainly due to the fact that he could finally let out the emotions he’s bottled up for years without thinking about it. His tears seemed to be a relief for me too, and the words from the author were just as powerful as ever. All these characters seemed to lose hope and regain their sense of self at the end of the book, hopefully giving them all the chance to start afresh, this time with an entirely new bond in tow. After hearing the full story from each character, I had high hopes for each one of them – but would they choose to go their separate ways or stick together as they’d done before? I couldn’t wait for the book’s finale!
By the end of the book, it was astonishing to see just how much the characters we’d grown to love had matured and grown as people – it made me feel like a proud parent! The author ties things up effortlessly and really leaves us with things to think about, not just with the paths the characters will go down next, but perhaps how differently you’d react to certain situations yourself if you were in their shoes. The book, even for a YA audience, was incredibly powerful and left me with one of those empty feelings you only get after finishing a tremendous book. I was left thinking what these characters would be doing now, or even five, ten years down the line. This book has been an absolute joy to read, and a solid five star story I’ll be recommending for quite some time. The talent of this author is unbelievable!
My god, if I think about this book too much, I feel like I’m going to cry (I’ll never listen to Bright Eyes’ First Day Of My Life the same ever again!) This story had a profound impact on me for a YA story which was completely unexpected, and it is genuinely one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. Each of the three main characters are fantastic, and have been created with immense care and passion. The love for these three just radiates from each page, and you can tell the author has put her heart and soul into each one of them. This combined with a solid plot full of twists and turns made this book award-worthy. Thank you, Lisa, for an experience like no other. I can’t wait to re-read this one!
A HUGE thank you to the author, Lisa Williamson, and Annabelle at Ed PR for my beautiful copy of this book to read and review! You can purchase your own copy of First Day Of My Life over on Amazon, available on Kindle, audiobook and hardback. Make sure you’re following the author over on Twitter and Instagram for more updates!