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Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Blog Tour: Black Car Burning by Helen Mort @dylanthomprize @midaspr

Black Car Burning 
by Helen Mort

Publisher: Chatto Windus
Publish Date: April 4, 2019
336 Pages
Genre: Contemporary

How do we trust each other?

Alexa is a young police community support officer whose world feels unstable. Her father is estranged and her girlfriend is increasingly distant. Their polyamorous relationship – which for years felt so natural – is starting to seem strained. As she patrols Sheffield she senses the rising tensions in its disparate communities and doubts her ability to keep the peace, to help, to change anything.

Caron is pushing Alexa away and pushing herself ever harder. A climber, she fixates on a brutal route known as Black Car Burning and throws herself into a cycle of repetition and risk. Leigh, who works at a local gear shop, watches Caron climb and feels complicit.

Meanwhile, an ex-police officer compulsively revisits the April day in 1989 that changed his life forever. Trapped in his memories of the disaster, he tracks the Hillsborough inquests, questioning everything.

As the young women negotiate the streets of the city and its violent inheritance, the rock faces of Stanage and their relationships with each other, the urban and natural landscape watches over them, an ever-present witness. Black Car Burning is a brilliant debut novel of trust and trauma, fear and falling, from one of our best young writers.

My Review:

This is a novel that, for me, is hard to review.  Why? Because while this probably isn't the book for a reader like me, I still have to applaud how beautifully it is written.  The author is a poet and her foray into novel writing shows how lyrically sound she is with the way this book is written. 

I think for those who are familiar with Sheffield, this may be a more pleasurable read.  As a person who is not even remotely familiar, the constant referencing left me a little lost.  Let's step away from that and look at the story itself.  Absolutely this is a character driven book.  There is little plot and there is no clear beginning, middle and end.  The background is the characters' links to the events of the Hillsborough disaster, which I also had to look up.  

What's absolutely gorgeous about this book is the writing itself.  Mort brings us this wonderfully atmospheric read, that while a bit somber, brings you right into the world of these characters.  Their loss.  Their grief. Their trauma.  This book is more about the space and feeling surrounding these characters and what happens to them during these events.  As a poet, the author really brings us more of a feeling within the pages rather than having us follow a plot of any kind.  Like life itself, these characters continue on after that last page is turned. 

While this book is not the book for me personally, I think that those who love character driven novels that wax poetically, this is a book you will absolutely enjoy. 

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