Walking on Trampolines, by Frances Whiting (2013, 2015)

16 to Adult
Walking on TrampolinesThis book opens with an awesome premise. Lulu wakes up, remembering yesterday’s wedding: the guests, her father’s assurance everything would be okay. She looks at the groom sleeping beside her, a bit of confetti in his tousled hair. Except she is not the bride. She’s the bride’s best friend. Whammo! Quickly dubbed the Wedding Night Shagger, Lulu slinks to her parents’ home in shame. The story shifts back about 10 years, when Annabelle Andrews strides into the Australian schoolroom and chooses the empty seat next to 12-year-old Lulu: “‘Tallulah de Longland,’ she said slowly, letting all the Ls in my name loll about lazily in her mouth before passing judgement. ‘That,’ she announced, ‘is a seriously glamorgeous name.'” This multi-layered coming of age story, originally published in Australia in 2013, explores every angle of the girls’ worlds – their families, first love, fear, shame, humour, and of course betrayal. Whiting shifts back and forth in time as she unpacks the story behind the betrayal and the consequences. Told in first person from Lulu’s perspective, the story slowly explores the joys and heartaches in Lulu’s life, including the difficulty of living with a mother who can spin into a deep depression for weeks at a time, often without warning. By comparison, her father is a solid, reliable man who adores his wife. Annabelle’s family is not dissimilar, and even Joshua (the shaggee who gets off far too easily in my view) comes from a home with an unreliable mother, though in his case there is no dad. Flawed parents are common enough in YA novels, but this one crosses into new adult territory as Annabelle, Lulu, and Lulu’s other friends (besties before Annabelle) Simone and Stella, all learn to navigate the tricky world of adulthood. After such a strong start, I expected more spice in this story, but it morphed into a plain old romance novel, though peopled with wonderful characters and locations. I loved Annabelle’s sassiness and prickly personality, how she taught Lulu the art of commingling words to make better ones, and especially her persistence. I wanted more courage and sass from the Wedding Night Shagger herself. It’s definitely more of a slow burn than a fiery narrative, but I still enjoyed it all the way to the end. Just don’t expect the startling opening to keep pace. My thanks to NetGalley for an advance reading copy of the U.S. edition, in exchange for my honest review.
More discussion and reviews of this book: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18243675


About Michelle Mallette
I'm just trying to keep track of the books I've read - what I liked and what isn't worth re-reading. My work as a librarian has included youth services so you'll find a wide range of interests from picture books and teen dystopia to adult sci-fi, road trip novels, and nonfiction. Comments and communication is always welcome.

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