Book Review: The Yellow Room (Jess Valance)
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Release Date: July 28th 2016
Summary (from Goodreads):
Sixteen-year-old Anna receives a letter from her father’s girlfriend telling her he has died and asking to meet. Anna is drawn to Edie: her warmth, her character, her ability to rustle up delicious meals, all of which her own mother is seemingly incapable of… and the way she can tell Edie the secret that is buried inside her.
A tautly told, compelling tale about mothers and daughters and the lengths that some will go to, to make their dreams come true.
I didn’t know much about this book going into it, but I really enjoyed Vallance’s twisted friendship tale Birdy last year, so I had high expectations. I wasn’t disappointed.
Anna gets a letter from her estranged Dad’s girlfriend telling her he’s dead and asking her to meet. Anna has her reservations but agrees to meet Edie and the two strike up an odd friendship, despite the misgivings of her friends. Edie is the opposite of Anna’s own mother: warm, funny, and actually wants to spend time with her. But as Anna spills some of her darkest secrets to Edie, she soon finds Edie has her own hidden too.
This books has pretty short chapters, often with a cliffhanger or revelation at the end of each, which made it really hard to put down. Each time I told myself ‘just one more chapter’ until I’d read half the book in one sitting and accidentally taken a long lunch break at work. But it was so worth it.
It was easy to see why Anna was drawn to Edie: she was fun, caring and yes, a bit weird. She felt like one of Anna’s friends rather than a grown woman a lot of the time, and there was a childlike innocence that also made you feel protective towards her.
The best part of this book was also kind of the worst – Leon. He’s the biggest fictional creep I’ve read, and written so well I could envision him perfectly. I think I’ve met a few ‘Leon’s at university, though none of them were quite as bad as him. He’s smarmy, up himself and wholly believes he is the best thing to happen to you since birth. I cringed whenever he was on the page and wanted to slap the stupid grin off his face.
Anna’s secret was not what I was expecting and I loved the hints dropped towards it before you find out what actually happened. While the sensible part of me kept saying it would have been best for everyone if Anna confessed up straight away, I know things aren’t as easy as that, and I probably would have done the same in her position, even though it made things worse in the long run. I’ll say no more in case of spoilers!
I did start to wonder over half way through why it was called The Yellow Room, but it came into it eventually. The events towards the end took me by surprise and I wan’t quite sure who to believe. There’s a character who comes in at the end, which I can’t explain because spoilers, but I was glad they didn’t come save the day and make everything okay: I liked the way the relationship played out. It was good to see some steps towards resolution between Anna and her mum as well, even if things weren’t perfect at the end.
This was a fast paced addictive book with constant twists and turns that keep you hungry for more. Jess Vallance writes amazing characters and beautifully twisted plots, and I’ll be picking up anything she writes in the future.