If I Knew You Were Going To Be This Beautiful, I Never Would Have Let You Go by Judy Chicurel
Published October 2014 by Tinder Press
My copy: Secondhand copy
Katie has been hanging around Comanche Street for three years and there are still times when it feels like she is watching a movie starring everyone in the world, except her.
Through sun-kissed days by the ocean and hazy nights in drifter bars, through love and death and pain, while the Vietnam war rages distantly and yet disturbingly close, she yearns to belong and never dreams that all the others want is to escape.
Night after night, they wait for something to happen.
It’s summer, and anything is possible . . .
To begin with, I was really intrigued by this book. I liked that the author presented such an honest and stark portrayal of life in Long Beach, with an array of druggies, drunks and pregnant teens. It felt very real, and the author clearly didn’t feel the need to sugar-coat her story – instead there was a real grittiness to the novel and the people within it. You could really get a feel for this area that was down on its luck and how people reacted to that – often in desperation and by turning to drink and drugs. The characters were interesting and I wanted to find out more about the narrator and which direction she would go in.
But about halfway through this book my feelings changed a bit – mainly because not very much really happened! More and more characters were introduced, and the novel became more like a series of anecdotes rather than a complete work of fiction. There were some chapters that introduced new characters who were never mentioned again, and you could have simply removed these pages without any adverse effect on the storyline.
Things did come together a bit more towards the end, and there was a conclusion of sorts, but I did find the huge cast and the lack of a coherent plot did spoil the book for me. Also I felt we never really found out enough about the narrator herself – there were hints about her family life but this was never really explored.
I felt a bit disappointed in this book overall as I loved the setting and many of the characters, but it never really came together for me and there were too many superfluous events and characters for it to be a truly coherent novel.