“Ruby red or disco pink? This decision is beyond me. Ruby red or disco pink? What does each colour really say? Red: I am an assertive, intelligent woman who knows what she wants and gets it. Pink: a flirty and vivacious female who just loves having a great time. Who will I be tonight?”
Sarah and Matt. Body dysmorphic and manic depressive. Unknown to one another until they meet at a party. Then the world becomes one for the two of them. Its just them, them and no one else, no drugs, no counsellors, no therapy, no family members. They are all that matter and they will help themselves through their problems. Will it really work? Can they be everything without their illnesses getting the best of them? Or will their bubble crumble?
This was more like New Adult than YA and as my first step into the NA range of titles i really enjoyed it. It wasn’t all sex and getting one over on other people like most of the NA I have seen. Swings and Roundabouts was good, it was real and it was harsh.
The story is intense. It goes between Sarah and Matt’s lives but Sarah’s is told in first person while Matt’s is in third. It jumps and wriggles between places and really takes the form of the two characters minds. Matts chapters are especially jumpy because in a way I think his illness effects him more than Sarah’s does hers. I was surprised at how little emphasis was put on Sarah’s illness actually but I think thats because it was almost as if she was recovering from the actual eating side of her eating disorder… it was more about the physiological side with the way she felt she was portrayed and stuff like that. The relationship built up nicely though and I liked that time obviously passed between them meeting, and them falling in love and the events at the end of the book. I can’t be sure because of the choppy and changing aspect of the time in the book but I think it was probably set over 6 to 8 months, at a guess, and I liked that because that part of a relationship is intense anyway, theirs just had even more intensity.
The characters within the book were mainly Sarah and Matt, a lot was about them and a lot was to do with them. You get a couple of side characters in Sarah’s mum, her grandparents, Johnny, Lisa, Dan, Sue, Naomi and the two main characters bosses, but they are side characters and mostly are just there for background to the main characters. Naomi is a constant reminder to Sarah of what she doesn’t want to be because Naomi is a little chubby (I think, though that might be just Sarah’s viewpoint) and her family is there to help understand why she’s the way she is. The two main characters in themselves were really interesting, though they were pretty much their illnesses and problems. Everything was focussed on that and themselves, their wild ideas and their feelings towards on another. You didn’t get to know much about them as people other than that they loved one another and they suffered, but I know mental illness can take over a person and its almost impossible to step back from it for some, so I understood that.
I think Matt was the most interesting character out of the two because of the way he handled things and I loved the style of the chapters when they focussed on him. I loved how the story played out and even though it was brutal I could understand why it needed to be. I liked Sarah but I didn’t agree with her aspect on a few things, especially at the end, though I also kinda understand that too. I think it takes great writing to put across the story and the feelings of this book and especially for a debut I was impressed by Swings and Roundabouts. I hope there is more from this author soon.
Swings and Roundabouts was published in October 2013 by Bamboccioni Books. My copy was sent to me from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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