The child’s fiction ‘Caramel Hearts’ written by E.R Murray is a perfect coming of age, happy ending, deep but not too deep novel.
At age fourteen, Liv Bloom is a fantastically relatable character with a hell of a lot going on. The reader experiences all the awkward moments, all the stressful moments and all the butterfly moments of being a new teenager alongside Liv. With the book being aimed at even younger than fourteen, this peek into Liv’s life and the inner workings of her mind is the perfect way at giving a young person a slight education on different ways to deal (or not to deal) with situations that their parents just can’t teach them.
We are faced with bullies, meeting the all too real character of Maddie ‘Mad Dog’… the popular, cool girl whose friends are only friends because they fear her. But when Maddie’s name-calling of Liv turns physical, she realises that she can’t keep living her life in fear.
Liv’s home life shows her attempting to cope with an alcoholic mother that is continually in and out of rehab and an older sister, Hattie, who is torn between the resentment of having to leave university to look after liv and the determination to keep her out of care. Without going into mature details, Murray gives a child friendly narrative of what the children of alcoholic parents can face, feeding it in to how it can/may affect their own mentality. I think Murray did an amazing job in the way she attempted to educate young reader in topics that can be so dark, in a sympathetic and understanding way.
I loved the romance weaved into the novel, however I would like it to have been concluded in a different way! I wanted more of Jack at the end, I wanted him to forgive Liv rather than have it settled by her best friend, Sarah.
The most wonderful thing about this book are the recipes dotted throughout. At the start of the novel, Liv finds her mother’s recipe book, gifted to her by her father, from way back when they were still together, and she was sober. Liv seems to cling onto these recipes as a comfort of what her mother once was and what she hopes she will return to. These recipes are actually given in the book, with an ingredient list and method… and even as someone like me at twenty years old, I’m really tempted to try a lot of them out! (Especially the rocky road, yum!).
I would 100% recommend this book and author to any parent and child as a gateway to lengthier reads, mature topics and of course, pleasure!
Caramel Hearts is published by Alma Books and is available to purchase here.
E.R. Murray lives in West Cork where she writes, fishes and grows her own vegetables. Caramel Hearts is her first book for young adults.
Her debut novel for children aged 10–12, The Book of Learning – The Nine Lives Trilogy (Mercier Press) was chosen as the 2016 Dublin UNESCO City of Literature Citywide Read for Children. Elizabeth has poetry and short fiction published in journals across the UK and Ireland
You can read our review of The Book Of Learning here.
Reviewed by Marika Lomax
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