Born for Brilliant Books

Kath Saunders, Independent Usborne Organiser

Book Review - The Places I've Cried in Public

29th October 2019

Amelie is the new girl in town, but she'd do anything to be back in Sheffield. The boxes from her old life remain unpacked in a room that doesn't remotely feel like hers yet. It's not her mum's fault and it's not her dad's either, but that doesn't make the feeling of being ripped out of her old life any easier – and she's less than excited to be starting over at a sixth form where she doesn't know anyone.

But then she meets Reese and, with his brooding, rock star looks, the attraction is instantaneous. As they get to know each other and Amelie is blinded by the sparks flying off them, it feels as though fate has drawn them a line that Amelie can't help but follow.

As she gets increasingly dazzled by Reese's showers of compliments and public displays of affection, Amelie's newly long-distance relationship with her boyfriend, Alfie, starts to fade. Compared to most couples, Reese and Amelie race through the steps. What usually takes months only takes weeks. But there's nothing more intoxicating than being in love, so it's fine that it's all a bit full on... isn't it?

But the thing is, the red flags were there from the start. That time he gatecrashed the end of her gig with a song just for her. Was it really a beautifully romantic gesture, or was it Reese making Amelie's big moment all about him? His casual ownership of Amelie – is it cute, or just another warning sign? The way he undermines her while telling her she's beautiful. And replaces woozy good feelings with pure anxiety when she does something 'wrong' and he acts withdrawn, almost like he hates her a little bit...

The reader meets Amelie on a bench by the railway bridge – the first place that Reese made her cry. She's retracing their story, creating a memory map of all of the places she was brought to tears. Because if she can work out what went wrong, perhaps she can finally learn how to get over him.

It's difficult to express how important, powerful and timely The Places I've Cried in Public is. Amelie's story is so relatable to many young women, and her second person narrative brings an unflinching authenticity to a multitude of prevalent but underrepresented issues. Amelie's voice not only shines a light on how it feels to experience a toxic relationship, but also on how to use the lessons learned to ensure a future with fewer tears in it.

What did our Organisers think?

"It took me back to my teenage years and my first love. I couldn't put the book down for wanting to know what happened to Amelie, and how she was going to deal with it. A gripping read, highly recommended." - Tracey Harris

"It really took me back 25 years to that feeling of teenage 'love', where you think your world can't survive without that one person." - Fiona Sivewright

"Through Amelie, Holly discusses how abuse can affect people mentally. This is especially important because people often associate abuse with being solely physical." - Charlene Riviere

"The writing honestly made me feel like I was there with Amelie on an emotional rollercoaster. I would highly recommend that young adults everywhere read this book and share it with their friends." - Sara Stewart

"I wish there were books like this around when I was a teenager. A must read." - Joanne Hall

"The Places I've Cried in Public is a powerful story for anyone who has found themselves in a relationship which hasn't felt quite right. Holly Bourne has captured some really difficult themes, which will help raise awareness of the fact that abusive relationships are not always physical." - Fiona Wilkes

Press reviews:

"This is a story that hasn't been told, and it's about time too. It should be required reading in every school in the country." - Laura Bates

"Smart and beautifully written, this isn't just for YA readers." - Stylist

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