15 February 2010
Book Review: The Ice-Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson
With the past threatening to rear its ugly head again, is Poppy going to be able to claim the innocence she has protested all along, and is Serena going to be able to keep the past buried deep down where she wants it? And just what is the secret torment of those young Ice Cream Girls that they haven’t told a soul all this time?
I have been a fan of Dorothy Koomson’s work since I read her novel My Best Friend’s Girl a few years ago when it was chosen as one of Richard and Judy’s summer reads, and since then I have tried to read all of her books, and have purchased all of them since they were released. When I heard about the release of The Ice-Cream Girls, I was so excited that I got worried the book would not live up to my expectations, but luckily I had no need to worry at all! The book was phenomenal, my favourite book of the year so far.
The book has an alternating first person narrative between Serena and Poppy, and as usual with Koomson’s writing, it is easy to follow and keep track of. It has the narrator’s name above the chapter but you can tell by the way the characters speak who the chapter focuses on. I really enjoyed this alternating narrative because it gives a much broader scope of story, and enables Koomson to build the tension as the story is slowly revealed through each of the women a little at a time. We see the most of Serena at first, for reasons that become clear later in the book, but I found it easy to get into Poppy’s narrative when this comes along too.
There is a secret going through the book which is the main crux of the plot. It’s told to us fairly early on what secret the two women hide but it isn’t this that keeps the tension. Both women have reasons to hide what happened when they were younger, and as the plot deepens and more is revealed, the tension becomes greater and you are soon engrossed in the book. I found that I couldn’t put it down because I was so eager to see how it all ended, and when the end came around, I was shocked because I certainly didn’t expect the way that it happened, and I loved that Koomson was still able to make that surprising for me.
The topic of the book is not an easy one to read anything about, but Koomson covers it in a very delicate way. Some of the scenes can be a little awkward to read because of the subject matter but they are needed because it sets up the feelings of both Serena and Poppy through the book and helps the reader to sympathise towards them. It took a while for me to understand the title of the book as well, but it does become clear as you read more of the book and is actually much more sinister than you would initially believe.
Overall, I cannot recommend this book enough. If you’ve read any of Dorothy Koomson’s work before, this is going to be a book you will love, and equally, if you haven’t read her work before either, you will love this simply because it is such a well written and tension laden book that will keep you hokoed for each of its 452 pages. The characters of Poppy and Serena are perfect, so much so that you can imagine each of them in this scenario and they are both so real too, they seem like normal women with a shocking hidden past. I loved this book, and I was lucky enough to interview Dorothy Koomson too, so you can catch my interview tomorrow! Enjoy the book, I hope you love it as much as I did – it is fabulous.