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The Ice Cream Girls - Dorothy Koomson
Member Name: HelenW
The Ice Cream Girls - Dorothy Koomson
Advantages: Unputdownable from start to finish
Disadvantages: Perhaps the dark themes of the book
The Ice Cream Girls
I have read a few Dorothy Koomston books, usually they are a great read and fairly light hearted. The Ice Cream Girls is Dorothy Koomstons 6th book so far.
The story focuses around Poppy and Serena, both young girls back in 1989 when Marcus, a teacher, died. Both were accused and thrown into the media spotlight and the hype surrounding it. At trial, Poppy was found guilty and sentenced to custody; Serena was acquitted and released. Serena got on with her life, married and had children. All of a sudden, her life is thrown into disarray when Poppy is released after her sentence. Poppy is determined to clear her name and make Serena confess to the murder. The past, which Serena thought had stayed where it should, was coming back to haunt her. Serena had kept the past events buried and now, by resurfacing, they threaten everything.
I picked up this book from my sisters bookshelf, while recovering from an intense year of university! I didn't want anything challenging, just a light read. I selected this book, based on that premise, it looks like a light hearted read, as was the last book I read by the same author. I'm ashamed to say, that I judged the book by it's cover! What I hadn't expected, was a gripping exploration of some very dark themes which kept you hooked from the very first page.
The way this novel is written kept me guessing right to the end. The story flits between 1989, when Poppy and Serena are very young; and now, when they are adults, and Poppy has been released from prison and Serena is married with a job and young family. There is a combination throughout of modern day world, the past, and what might have happened, based on 18 years of speculation but which has been buried. Also, as well as alternating between decades, the narrative, which is told in the first person, switches between Poppy and Serena. This did not make the narrative of the plot hard to follow, quite the contrary, I thought it made the plot flow very well, and each character complemented the other, while telling of their unique perspective of the matter. When all was revealed, what I really liked was that I hadn't been able to guess the ending! Never would I have guessed that things ended the way they did!
Having studied criminology, I was fascinated by the institutionalisation which was brought to the fore here. Although Poppy is out of prison, she takes a long time to even begin to adjust to life outside. This is most likely down to the length of time that Poppy spent in prison, but also, having entered prison at the age of 18. I was interested by how she drew parallels between life outside and her life inside, which should, theoretically, be two dramatically different paths.
During this novel, I most liked the character of Serena. Although she had been found not guilty, it seemed to me as though there was a huge question mark over that. She had not made peace with the events even before the murder, and I think this is what made her come across to me as somewhat cagey. It feels as though the surface of Serena has merely been scratched, until the resolution with her sisters. At this point, I think it was clear exactly why her acquittal felt slightly uneasy.
This was an absolutely brilliant book. I could barely put the book down from start to finish! I just had to know what happened next. It's a gripping book, but interspersed with some dark themes, and does become quite sinister.
The RRP of this book is £6.99, although is available on amazon for £4.47. However, having been a book from my sisters collection, it most likely came from tesco as part of their offer for 2 for £7 or £3.86 per book!
Summary: A must read