All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Walking On Trampolines – Frances Whiting

on November 27, 2013

Walking On TrampolinesWalking On Trampolines
Frances Whiting
Pan Macmillan AUS
2013, 334p
Copy courtesy of the publisher/The Reading

From the day Annabelle Andrews walks into her high school classroom, Tallulah (Lulu) de Longland is under her spell. Passionate, willful Annabelle and Lulu become best friends, each of them finding something to crave in the other’s lifestyle. Annabelle lives with her artistic parents in a crumbling house by a picturesque river and Lulu finds peace in the freedom to just be there, to not have to worry or look after people. And in Lulu’s comfy home with her homebody parents and her twin younger brothers, can Annabelle find the busy family she’s never been a part of. It is an all-consuming friendship and for years, everything goes smoothly.

But all things change, including people and Lulu and Annabelle drift a little apart as they grow older and want different things. Lulu finds the heady rush of first love and sinks into it. For a while things are harmonious and Lulu doesn’t see what is right under her nose until it is too late. Betrayal leads to implosion and the friendship is torn apart leaving Lulu alone when school finishes, uncertain of how to go forward with her life and what to do with it. So she stays in her hometown of Juniper Bay, working for her father’s business, taking care of the twins the way she has always done and keeping an eye on her mother Rose, who is prone to bad patches. But eventually Harry, Lulu’s father decides that enough is enough and she needs to be living her own life again, not just standing still, treading water.

Years later, Lulu has done just that. Fate puts her in the path of those who betrayed her so long ago and she is faced with a choice: to lash out, to be the one that does the bad thing, something that the old Lulu would never do or to walk away and remain that same perpetual good girl. The choice she makes will alter the path of her life and set her on the one that will eventually give her purpose.

I’ve been hearing wonderful things about this book since it was released and I was thrilled to get a copy to read. I was hooked from the first line, I think because I found so much to identify with in the story. I love reading novels that really explore the dynamics of high school friendships because they are both beautiful and so very ugly. It’s a time of your life when you often have the most passionate of friendships, where you tell each other everything and spend all of your time together. It can also be incredibly, incredibly dangerous because these friendships can turn on a dime and all of a sudden that person you’ve confided all your secrets in, is now your worst enemy. In some ways, Lulu and Annabelle is a classic example of a toxic friendship. Annabelle is the more dominant friend, she quite often sulks if Lulu wants to spend time with other friends and she can be manipulative. But she is also quite fiercely devoted to Lulu in many ways, she stands up for her and she keeps her secrets. What she does to Lulu is betray her in a very different way, not an uncommon way. Lulu, the quintessentially good girl, thought she was doing the right thing in keeping Annabelle included when she began spending so much time with her new boyfriend when she turned 16. It did not occur to her at all that this would backfire and so badly.

The characters in this novel shine so brightly. Lulu is delightful, mature beyond her years, a caring person who has worked so hard to shelter her young twin brothers from their mother’s crippling depression. Rose, Lulu’s mother is a character that could’ve been a cliche, the distant mother who can’t get out of bed but Whiting gives her such life and vitality in the stories of how she names all of her dresses, each of them meaning a different thing, a different mood. Her father is a lovely character, supportive and gentle, but also protective. This continued on through the story, each person that Lulu met being a character that stuck with the reader, that imprinted themselves upon the reader’s memory, especially her boss, Duncan a larger than life radio host with a lot of ex-wives. The bond that he and Lulu build up over the period that she works for him is so wonderfully written and culminates in true grief. Each relationship in this book, each friendship was so well crafted and defined that it was impossible not to feel as if I was right in the story and knew these people. Maybe because I felt that Annabelle was so very like a friend of my own from high school, as well. I don’t have much in common with Lulu but I easily felt I could’ve been her, or could’ve been in her situation. The characters are all also brilliantly flawed, including Lulu – at times, especially Lulu. But her flaws accentuated her even more. Actually, I liked her more because of them, after her ‘choice’ was made than I did before. She had been so passive, so ridiculously accepting of what had been done to her and allowed these people back in her life to cause her even more pain so it was actually kind of satisfying to see her lash out and do something, feel. She almost operates on automatic pilot after the betrayal and it seems like only after she has made that choice and done something, can she move forward and begin to heal and get over it.

Walking On Trampolines is a truly fabulous debut, wonderfully written and characters that come to life. I cannot wait to see what Frances Whiting has to offer readers next.


Book #302 of 2013


Walking On Trampolines is book #104 for the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2013






2 responses to “Walking On Trampolines – Frances Whiting

  1. I’ve also been hearing wonderful things about this book – looking forward to reading it.

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