Tuesday 12 September 2023

Nineteen Steps - Millie Bobby Brown

The debut novel from global star Millie Bobby Brown

Love blooms in the darkest days…

London, 1942.

Despite the raging war, spirited 18-year-old Nellie Morris lives a quiet life in the tight-knit East End community of Bethnal Green. Her family and friends all tease that she will marry air raid warden Billy, the boy next door who’s always been sweet on her.

The arrival of Ray, a handsome American airman stationed nearby, causes Nellie to question everything she thought she knew about her future.

Nellie’s newfound happiness is short-lived when a tragic accident occurs during an air raid. Even the closest family can’t escape the devastation of war, and as the secrets and truth about that fateful night become clear, they threaten to tear Nellie – and those dearest to her – apart.

Inspired by the true events of her family history, Millie Bobby Brown’s dazzling debut novel is a moving tale of longing, loss and secrets, and the lengths that we will go to fight for love.

What did I think?

Millie Bobby Brown's debut novel has been written with Kathleen McGurl and it's based around an absolutely tragic event that I had never even heard of, although similar horrific events have happened over the years.  

When I first started reading, I thought it would be a traditional wartime love story with boy meets girl and boy goes to war but Nineteen Steps is so much more than that.  It absolutely devastated me and as hard as it was to read about the horrific tragedy, it's a story that really needed to be told.  I'm not going to reveal what the tragedy was as it would spoil it for other readers but I applaud Millie Bobby Brown for bringing it to light, especially when it is very personal to her.

I absolutely loved Nellie and her whole family.  I feel very fortunate to have never experienced a war on home soil as it must have been so frightening.  Parents, often women on their own as their husband was fighting in the war, had such difficult decisions to make to protect their family, not least whether they should evacuate their children.  

Everyone thinks Nellie will end up marrying Billy the boy next door but fate has other plans for her and American airman Ray is thrust into her life.  It wasn't exactly love at first sight but I loved how their relationship grew, almost cruelly right in front of Billy's eyes.

Haunting, devastating and poignant, Nineteen Steps is a heartachingly beautiful story that will stay with me long after turning the final page.  I was close to tears on several occasions and I had a lump in my throat at the end.  It's well-written, very easy to read and should come with a warning that it may cause tears.  A solid 4.5 stars from me.

I received an ARC for the Tandem Collective readalong and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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