Skylarks, Karen Gregory

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I guess that’s what happens when you don’t say the stuff you really want to; it builds up inside until it comes crashing out whether you like it or not

Joni used to have dreams that she could fly. But these days her feet are firmly on the ground – they have to be when money’s tight and her dad can’t work and the whole family has to pull together to keep afloat.

Then she meets Annabel. Annabel is everything Joni isn’t, and yet there’s a spark between them. Though Joni barely believes it at first, she thinks they might be falling in love. 

* * * *
4 / 5

Skylarks is a cute, thoughtful, contemporary f/f YA romance centred around British class struggles. There’s two sides to this book: the enemies-to-lovers romance with the rich girl on one side, and the difficulty of being a poor working-class family on the other. Skylarks is full of emotion and a quick, engaging read.

I know we’re moving more and more each day to a point we’re not going to come back from and still be the same people

Our main character is Joni, a realistic teenage girl who is doing her A levels and worrying about how her parents are going to make ends meet. Her older brother is involved in “the cause” and “being woke”, fighting for the little man, but Joni is just worried about making sure her family is alright and that her little brother doesn’t feel isolated from his peers. At least until the housing estate her family lives on is bought out and the rent jacked so far up they can’t afford to live there any more.

Working at the local library, Joni meets rich girl Annabel. Annabel who is only there for something to write on her UCAS form, who doesn’t need to give her spare money to her parents, who doesn’t need to schedule her shopping habits around sales and coupons. Their relationship develops in a rather predictable don’t-like-each-other to tentative-friendship to will-you-be-my-girlfriend territory. Just as your heart starts to feel all warm and light, the reality of Joni’s life comes crashing back in. Right in the heart.

I know this seems mad, but there’s something in the stillness in the water, the way she seems lost

One of the things I really loved about Skylarks is that it isn’t about the struggles of being gay. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve read and loved lots of those kinds of books (The Miseducation of Cameron Post!), but sometimes it feels like all f/f romances are either pure steamy romance or they have all their conflict around the difficulties of coming out. Instead, Skylarks’ tension is derived from the conflict of wealth and social class. Yes, there is a little bit about how Joni’s friends and family reacted to her sexuality, and how she wonders about Annabel, but it isn’t a key element of the book. It was refreshing!

Skylarks is a thoughtful f/f romance novel that is really, delightfully, British. I don’t read a lot of books that are so obviously (in terms of class and politics) set in the UK, that Skylarks was an absolute delight.

My thanks to Netgalley, the publisher, and the author for an ARC of Skylarks

 

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