The blurb: Jess Walker, middle child of a middle class family, has perfected the art of vanishing in plain sight. But when she arrives at a concrete university under flat, grey, East Anglian skies, her world flares with colour. Drawn into a tightly-knit group of rule breakers – led by their maverick teacher, Lorna Clay – Jess begins to experiment with a new version of herself. But the dynamic between the friends begins to darken as they share secrets, lovers and finally a tragedy. Soon Jess is thrown up against the question she fears most: what is the true cost of an extraordinary life?
Kate Weinberg’s novel had me hooked from the start and I read in rapt fascination as the characters’ paths twisted, turned and tangled together. Jess idolises the enigmatic Lorna Clay and, at first, can’t or won’t see that there is something darker hidden beneath her surface.
Jess meets Georgie early on in her life at university and seems quite in awe of her. When Georgie meets Alex, and Jess meets Nick, the four become deeply entrenched in a close and increasingly toxic friendship. As obsession and lust blend with secrets and pasts reinvented, the friends plummet towards almost inevitable tragedy.
I loved the way the author gradually removes the rose-tinted glasses from Jess’s eyes and she slowly realises that all is not as it seems with those closest to her. The novel made me consider how we can all reinvent ourselves at times; whether through an abridged telling of our background in response to a question, or a glossing over of parts we’re maybe a little less proud of. Then there are those who, for various reasons, choose to completely rewrite their history.
It was quite chilling thinking of how much we rely on what someone chooses to tell us. And perhaps, more importantly, what they don’t… Perfect for fans of Paula Hawkins, I’m giving this a firm four stars!