Monday 15 April 2024

Swanna in Love - Jennifer Belle

It's the summer of 1982 and fourteen-year-old Swanna Swain is the only one left at camp.

The place is a ghost town by the time her mother Val finally shows up six hours late- stoned and radiant- in a Ford pickup driven by Borislav, her new young Russian lover.

Assuming she is headed home to her air-conditioned Upper West Side apartment, Swanna and her lovable younger brother Madding are instead dragged to Vermont: to an artist colony where kids are not welcome and they are forced to sleep in the back of the truck, while Val is cosy inside the house with the Russian.

Then Swanna meets Dennis, a handsome married father of two, at a bowling alley, and, knowing a thing or two about seduction from Judy Blume, her best friend at camp, and her own parents' many affairs - she sets out to convince Dennis to help her. But love seldom obeys rules, and even a tough, smart, city girl like Swanna might not be able to handle falling in love.

Best-selling novelist Jennifer Belle returns with her first novel in fifteen years with a kind of inverse Lolita that explores adolescent desire from the girl's point of view. In turns hilarious and wildly shocking, Swanna In Love is the most unmissable book of the summer.

What did I think?

Wow!  I am positively breathless after racing through Swanna in Love, the breathtaking new novel from Jennifer Belle.  I read it in one sitting and it may as well have been superglued to my hands as I simply couldn't put it down.  I have never read Lolita and I thought the book might have been a little outside my comfort zone but it's just fantastic.

With a mother so flightly she could virtually take off and a father who doesn't seem that bothered about his children, it's no wonder that Swanna looks for affection elsewhere.  Swanna not only looks older than her 14 years, she acts like it too so it's no wonder that she draws attention from men, who may or may not be horrified to find out how young she actually is.  

When Swanna begins a relationship with a married man (and oh he's so weak-willed), I got the feeling that Swanna knew exactly what she was doing.  Is Swanna a seductress or is Dennis a paedophile?  That's the question that was on my lips throughout the book; I thought I would have been enraged at Dennis but I didn't feel as angry as I expected.

Jennifer Belle has created such a funny, likeable and smart character in Swanna and her voice shouts out loud and clear throughout.  I laughed out loud so many times at things that Swanna said, thought or did; in fact, I don't think I've laughed out loud so much when reading a book that's doesn't claim to be in the comedy genre.

Addictive, enthralling, shocking and hilarious, Swanna in Love is easily one of the best books I've read this year.  I'm so pleased I requested a review copy, as I very nearly didn't.  I really can't recommend it highly enough; pick one up and let Swanna surprise you.

I received an ARC to read and review; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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