Publication Date: February 13, 2013
August Bailey is a 16-year-old living by the rules of an old-fashioned society — one where she has to wear hand-me-downs and her mother won’t let her date. When her mother slaps her face during an argument, August knows that it’s time to head into the world and make a life for herself. When August discovers that the big city isn’t quite what she thought it would be, Reese finds her. He’s sweet and handsome and wants to take care of her and build a general affection. But life on the streets isn’t all August thought it would be. Living in a society of kids who sell their bodies for enough money to live for a day, and where drugs flow like water, can she survive with them or will every day simply lead her further from home? [easyazon-link asin=”0991851013″ locale=”us”]Suicide City, a Love Story[/easyazon-link] is a Young Adult novel, but more suitable for older readers.
[easyazon-link asin=”0991851013″ locale=”us”]Suicide City, a Love Story[/easyazon-link] is a brutal story; vivid and raw with characters that leap from the page. Frayn cuts no corners to spare her readers. She breaks our hearts again and again but with purpose and made some choices that fit within the novel, but they were astounding brash choices and are to be admired. If I had to choose anything to criticize, I would simply point out that the Sarah character read much younger than 16, but I think Frayn made the choice to highlight how sheltered these girls were to those we’d meet later in the big city. [easyazon-link asin=”0991851013″ locale=”us”]Suicide City, a Love Story[/easyazon-link] is billed on Amazon as an “edgy young adult novel.” Because of the sexual content and abuse, I’d recommend it for older teens. There is not gratuitous teen sex in this novel. There’s no glamorization of a lifestyle on the streets. From the moment Reese and August find the body of Reese’s friend, it got real. I have never been on the streets nor would I want to be, and I can imagine it being much less safe than Frayn portrays, but the skill with which she paints a dead-end world makes it astoundingly, skin-crawlingly, vivid. These are forgotten kids in an unseen — except by would-be johns’s world.
As we follow August from the farm, we know that things will be hard for her, but the reader expects some sugar coating; this is a love story after all. The catch is that it is not the kind of love story we think it will be. Sure, Reese and August love each other, but will it last? Reese is a boy on the edge. He was badly abused at the behest of his mother who would get extra money for his involvement in her selling herself. His damage runs deep. August learns how lucky she was, but she’ll never leave Reese. What will they do? You won’t believe what Frayn does and I think it’s a touch of genius.
Interspersed with August’s story are letters that her mother writes and puts under her pillow at home. They are beautifully written, showing anger, hurt, imperfection and love. My heart broke for both Mrs. Bailey, who loved her daughter so dearly and for August, who we as readers, were only too sure of where she’d gone and what she was doing.
Frayn’s writing style is brilliant and her plotting is flawless. August’s journey is a poignant one. I cannot imagine giving this novel to a teen any younger than 16 but I might give it to all that I know who are older. [easyazon-link asin=”0991851013″ locale=”us”]Suicide City, a Love Story[/easyazon-link] is a cautionary tale for a modern age.
This was a hard read for a mother. I had tears streaming down my face at the end, but it was a read that will haunt me as a parent for a long time.
If this sounds like a book for you, read an excerpt and buy Suicide City: A Love Story by Julie Frayn on
For further reading, check out further book reviews: It Isn’t Cheating if He’s Dead, A Trio of Unrelated Stories, Goody One Shoe, Two Wins and an Honourable Mention, Mazie Baby and A Trio of Unrelated Stories by Julie Frayn.