I've been dragging my feet about writing (or finishing) off several reviews for books read a month ago. Part of the problem has been a recent return to work which has left me wondering how on earth I used to fit everything in before Covid-19 came along and slowed things down for a while. But the other part is having little desire to say anything right now.
I enjoyed Cherry Beach. It was angsty and full of the drama of young adult friendships and relationships. From my vantage point (many years away from this often torturous period of life) I could appreciate the difficulty one has in moving on from childhood friendships that fail to crossover into an adult relationships. It's not easy to let go people you no longer share anything in common with, except some childhood memories. Despite the love, the shared experiences and all the best intentions, some friendships do not go forward. And that's okay. But it's not always easy to know this when you're young, or to know how to do so gracefully. The graceful part is especially hard to negotiate.
The common ground can disappear, different experiences move you away from each other and a friendship that once enriched and supported you, becomes a drag on your energies and brings you down. How do you move on? How do you protect yourself from any fallout? How do you honour what you once had?
Hetty and Ness are two such friends, trying to navigate their way through the twenty-something phase. They leave behind Melbourne (and their shared childhood) to have a year living overseas in Canada. Their lives veer off into vastly different directions.
What happens next is exquisitely bittersweet, yet captures the intense emotions of young adulthood perfectly. The insecurity, the anxiety, and the hugeness of what life might become. Which road to take, who to be with, who to trust and love and who not to. Sadly, some young people set off down a road of self-destruction and those on the sidelines can do very little to stop it. Adult responsibilities and choices can be a burden or you can embrace them. This is that story.
This a debut novel by Laura McPhee-Browne. She is a social worker in Melbourne and her writing has appeared in a variety of journals and magazines.
The gorgeous cover art is by Emma Currie.