I saw Sarah’s review of What July Knew and I actually had second thoughts about reading it. Not because of Sarah’s review, but because of the harrowing tone of the story which involves domestic violence. I’m so glad I read it though. Once started I couldn’t stop and it has to go on my list of best ever books.
As always I listened to What July Knew on Audible.
July knows 18 things about her mother. But not the truth.
Summer, 1995. On her tenth birthday, July’s teacher sets the class a project to find out about a relation they don’t know. It’s easy for July to choose her subject. She doesn’t remember her mother, who died when she was small, and her father refuses to talk about her. Ever. The only memories she has of her are flashbacks from the accident that claimed her mother’s life.
But then she receives the note: ‘She didn’t die in a car accident.’
Determined to discover what really happened, July begins to investigate, cycling around the street where her family used to live and questioning the neighbours. When she is caught snooping round a crumbling house at the end of the road, she learns that the man living there was the last person to see July’s mother alive.
In his version of the story, he is a hero. In everyone else’s, he is anything but…
This book is so well written. The story is mostly from the perspective of ten year old July and it is so innocent. She’s in a blended family where her Dad is living with another woman who July calls Auntie Shell, and her daughter, Sylvie, who is just slightly older than July. July’s mother died when she was small, she has images of her being in a car crash.
A school project sets July off on finding out more about her Mother, but no-one will talk about her. Her father gets angry, her Grandma (yaya) won’t speak about her, the only person who gives her snippets about her Mother is Auntie Shell, but even she makes her hide it from her Father. July gets enough information to set off on a dangerous journey of finding out the truth.
July is an innocent child and the story is far from innocent so the other parts are expertly written in the forms of letters and views from other people. We do get a little insight from July’s Grandma, and some from neighbours and even passing strangers who are no part of the story.
Their are plenty of twists and turns and even if you think you know where the story is going I’m pretty sure there will be some surprises.
The Audible narration was good, it gave a great perspective from all sides and the addition of the male voice for some of the letters was a nice addition.
What July Knew is also available in Hardback and Paperback editions.
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