Published by The Conrad Press on February 18, 2021
Genres: Family & Relationships, Fiction, Young Adult
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This exciting and captivating page-turner transports you into the fascinating story of sixteen-year-old aspiring singer Fiona Watson who runs away from her family, oblivious to the dangers outside her shielded comfort zone. As she journeys through her new world, leaving her past behind and determined to find a new identity, she uncovers surprising secrets buried deep within her long ago...How do her new friends link to her past? What secrets are they hiding behind their misleading smiles? How much of herself has she really left behind? And how will she cope when she realises that she has made a huge mistake... one that could ruin her forever?
I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
When I was contacted by Anne from Random Things Tours about reviewing this title, I think it was the quickest I’ve ever hit reply. Was it because of its content? Was it due to the novel being a much talked about sure-fire hit? Nope to both of those. When I get an email that tells me that a 13-year-old girl has written her first novel, I’m slamming ‘reply’ on that email faster than you can imagine. Samiksha Battacharjee has recently published Legal Crime and taken her first tentative steps into the publishing world – and boy does she show promise.
When 16-year-old Fiona is completely left out of her kid brother’s birthday, it’s the proverbial last straw for her. Fed up of her family, and distant from her friends, she takes off for a new life. Assuming a new identity as Isabelle she ends up at a hostel for young women and slowly starts to build herself not only a new life but a new persona as well. But how much of her new identity will be risked by her old one? As she meets and forms relationships with a new group of people, Fiona comes to a stark realisation. To truly escape her old life she must fully envelop her new one. Soon Isabelle fully takes hold of her new life, although her new circle of friends may not be so new after all. As the mystery deepens and Fiona’s old and new lives collide, it becomes clear that all is not quite as it seems – especially within Fiona’s head.
Samiksha is a very clever young writer. She has managed to encapsulate the teen psyche without it veering towards the stereotypical tropes that many adult writers rely upon. While Fiona’s initial ‘It’s not fair’ whine may come across as typical teen angst, it’s clear as the story progresses that there’s much more at play here. Samiksha utilises flashbacks well, and the narrative often drops back to her family, especially once her disappearance is reported to the police. These flashbacks give the reader clever little insights into the reality of the world Fiona believes she lives within. These clues tell us quite early on that Fiona may not be the neglected teen she leads us to believe.
Fiona is certainly believable as a confused teenager and that’s down to Samiksha’s way with language. Quite often I was seriously impressed by her use of language for Fiona’s internal monologues:
Younger Fiona let her emotions rule her. Older Fiona let others rule her, change her. And Isabelle, well, Isabelle, was different. New. Untouchable. Recalcitrant. And she wasn’t going to let anybody rule her.
Put your emotions behind, Fiona. Your family DON’T want you. Don’t need you.
She felt the Fiona go inside of her. Deep inside, never to come out. EVER. Instead, Isabelle came out, twisting around her like a snake, covering every inch of her. This girl wouldn’t stop until she got what she wanted. She wouldn’t let others get a grip on her.
This is Isabelle. The new girl. Say bye to Fiona.
The use of italics, while at first a tad jarring, adds extra weight to Fiona’s internal voice. It is clear though that the central character of Legal Crime is not a reliable narrator.
The ideas are certainly there, but this is quite clearly written by a young author. With some tight editing, this could become an incredibly tight psychological drama. Although at times the narrative was tricky to navigate, Legal Crime shows the first steps of what could be a fantastic literary career.
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Tour organised by Anne at Random Things Tours. Check her out on Twitter and Facebook as well as other dates on the tour.