Ivy’s seemingly perfect, master-of-social-causes boyfriend breaks it off in the school hallway before their final exam. So much for love. It turns out Jeremy wants to get good and laid by someone new over summer vacation, before they both head off to different universities in the fall.
At her grandmother’s seventy-fifth birthday party, Ivy is in no mood to socialize. In fact, she’s downright delicate. Unfortunately, sixteen-year-old Lucan’s peanut allergy reaction happens right in front of her eyes. As Ivy keeps him company the two realize they’re second cousins who haven’t seen each other in six years due to a mysterious family feud.
The old drama is the last thing on Lucan’s mind. He has more immediate problems, like his mom’s noisy playtime activities with her brash younger boyfriend. On top of that, Lucan’s a constant witness to his best friend’s toxic relationship, which he begins to suspect has become abusive.
As the weeks pass, Lucan and Ivy’s summer seems more like a minefield of disastrous events — but at least they have their developing friendship with each other to count on. Or is that what’s really going on?
Ivy is a young woman who seemingly has it all – guaranteed university acceptance, fantastic boyfriend, strong social conscience, devoted best friend – until the day her fantastic boyfriend breaks up with her and she realizes that the people around her have been keeping secrets. Lucan is struggling to find a balance in his world, where he’s caught between his divorced parents, his best friends’ destructive relationship and his own inability to see a path for his future. When these two second cousins reconnect after finding each other hiding out at the same family reunion, they begin to build a rather unlikely friendship. C.K. Kelly Martin’s latest book is a narrative of personal growth and heartbreak that comes from realizing that everyone has something to hide, even from those closest to them.
Broken trust through betrayal, domestic violence, miscommunication and other means appears throughout the book, and I have to applaud Martin for weaving so many threads through the storyline without letting it become too heavy or preachy. I was particularly impressed with the description of relationship between Des and McKenna; I think too often teens feel that their relationships are special, and that everything is done out of ‘love’. I appreciated how they struggled with their relationship, and that even their closest friends couldn’t see the violence between them. I also liked that both parties entered into counselling, and that their friends didn’t automatically choose sides.
It’s the grey areas that are most difficult to decipher, and Martin does a brilliant job of illustrating how Ivy and Lucan mature over the summer. Lucan must reconcile the knowledge of his best friend and closest confidant with the young man who physically hurt their friend, while Ivy comes to recognize that she and Jeremy were perfect together, but that it was a finite relationship that had run its course. Mature issues such as sexual contact, STIs and the aforementioned domestic violence are normalized in a way that shows respect for their seriousness without passing judgement.
What sold me on the book, however, was the wonderful pacing and the characters of Ivy and Lucan themselves. Initially, I wasn’t sure if I would like Ivy as she seemed too clingy and irresponsible. It was after she met with Lucan that I began to see the true character coming through, and I really liked reading about the two of them moved from being “delicate” to something more as the summer progressed. I won’t say too much about the ending except to say that I appreciated how things were left, and that they were most certainly stronger individuals then they were at the start of the book.
A quick, well-paced read with interesting characters and a number of authentic issues facing teens today will make this a popular title with my high school readers. There’s a number of great moments of personal learning and growth for the characters that will lead to further discussion, if not with the adults in their lives then most certainly with their peers.
A copy of Delicate was provided by Dancing Cat Press for this blog tour, and a copy is available to win on Goodreads – click HERE to enter! All opinions are my own and are not influenced by this. Delicate is available for purchase from your favourite booksellers, including Indigo, Amazon and your favourite indie bookseller. ISBN: 9781770864528, 256 pages.