Sex, Lies and Family Ties by Sarah J Graham
Reviewed by Allen Ashley. Reprinted by permission.
Set mostly during September 1970, this book will evoke bittersweet memories for anyone who remembers drinking halves of cider or bottles of Kia-ora; painting their bedroom wall orange or purple; listening to early T Rex and mourning the untimely death of Hendrix; describing unpleasant situations as a “bummer” or “heavy vibes”.
At the core of the story are three friends – Carol, Syl, and Jac – all aged nineteen and on the cusp of womanhood. It is bookshop assistant and biker girl Carol whose narrative we mostly follow. The occasionally meandering plot reflects her damaged and uncertain psychological state as she inches towards taking control of her own destiny and throwing off the stifling shackles of “Family… something you got lumbered with.” She is a sympathetic though sometimes annoyingly self-centred heroine. The novel has some strongly written scenes, particularly the gripping final chapter as Carol floats adrift through her abusive brother’s funeral and wake before metaphorically swimming to safety. A thought-provoking coming of age story; as well as a snapshot of those difficult times.
* * * * *
Reviewed by Barry Lillie. Originally appeared on Goodreads and reprinted with permission.
A dark and gritty tale that focuses upon a handful of days in the life of a teenager in the 1970s and how those few days bring with them change and closure. Well written, compelling and deliciously dark. The sense of betrayal at the end was as sharp as a harridan’s tongue. I’d recommend this book even to those not old enough to remember the era as there’s very little to alienate a younger reader. The setting may be the ’70s but the story and content is still pertinent to society and the coming of age today.