What if everything you set yourself up to be was wrong?
Frances has always been a study machine with one goal, elite university. Nothing will stand in her way; not friends, not a guilty secret – not even the person she is on the inside.
But when Frances meets Aled, the shy genius behind her favourite podcast, she discovers a new freedom. He unlocks the door to Real Frances and for the first time she experiences true friendship, unafraid to be herself. Then the podcast goes viral and the fragile trust between them is broken.
Caught between who she was and who she longs to be, Frances’ dreams come crashing down. Suffocating with guilt, she knows that she has to confront her past…
She has to confess why Carys disappeared…
Meanwhile at uni, Aled is alone, fighting even darker secrets.
It’s only by facing up to your fears that you can overcome them. And it’s only by being your true self that you can find happiness.
Frances is going to need every bit of courage she has.
I honestly don’t know what I think about this book. It’s very well written, I can’t deny that, and the characters are well rounded, likeable and relateable. Having said that, I didn’t love this book.
My favourite aspect of the book is the way the characters present themselves to others. For most people, Frances is this studious girl with her goal firmly fixed (Cambridge), yet at home, the reader learns she is completely different – and she’s not the only character like this. This, for me, is what made the characters so believable, because let’s face it. Everyone does this.
I really enjoyed the relationship between Frances and Aled, even though it often felt a little one-sided at times. They complemented each other very well, and often brought the ‘real’ person out in each other. This was often compromised when other characters were with them as they often felt they had to hide who they were when it wasn’t just the two of them, talking about what they loved.
However, there were far too many things going on in the book for me to truly escape into the world Oseman has created. Carys running away, Aled’s mother, Aled’ secret identity, Frances applying to university etc etc… Admittedly, a lot of these storylines merged together towards the end of the book, but up until then, it felt rather bitty and disjointed. It was hard for me to keep up in places.
Also, I understand that these kids are on the cusp of adulthood, and many of they things they did in the book, I did at that age (getting drunk, staying out all night etc), but Frances’ mum seemed much too accepting of things, particularly with the build up of exams and university applications. That bugged me slightly.
Overall, I didn’t dislike the book, but thanks to the overload of subplots and storylines, I didn’t love it.