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Thursday, 12 April 2012

Guest Review: Illegal by Miriam Halahmy

Title: Illegal
Series: Hayling Island
Publisher: Meadowside Children's Books
Publication Date: 20 March 2012

Synopsis from Goodreads

If Jemma had lived, none of this would have happened. I'd have been too busy to get dragged into this filthy, illegal business...

Since Lindy's baby sister died, her family have been caught in a downward spiral. Her brothers are in prison and her parents have given up. Soon Lindy is out of her depth too, caught in the centre of an international drugs ring, with no way out. Then Lindy finds help from an unexpected ally: weird, mute Karl from school, and together they plan a daring and desperate escape. But when you're in this deep can you ever be free?

Touching, surprising and painfully honest, Illegal is the second in a cycle of three novels by Miriam Halahmy, and the follow up to her acclaimed first novel, Hidden.


Illegal is the second in Miriam Halahmy’s series of books based on Hayling Island and after reviewing Hidden back in October (HERE) I was really keen to get my teeth into Illegal. It did not disappoint.

Illegal deals with some seriously adult issues, which at times had me wondering if it was indeed a YA book but it deals with them in a mature but readable way which I think is part of its charm and well, genius.

Throughout Illegal our protagonist is Lindy, who featured in the first novel as a sort of bullyish character but once you get going with Illegal, you soon realise how hard life is for Lindy and her family. From the loss of her brothers to prison, to her baby sister passing away, Lindy has for too much to deal with for a young teenager and this is compounded when she begins to work for her dodgy drug-dealing cousin Colin. Lindy thinks she’s doomed to the Bellows fate of being sent to prison and never getting out and continues her work for Colin as she has no way out.

Through her time spent working for Colin, she gets to know Karl, ‘the boy who doesn’t speak’ from school and she begins by bullying him as she has done everybody else but Karl sticks around. His character is extremely interesting as he begins to open up and both Lindy and we as readers get to know him better. Lindy knows she needs to free herself from Colin and her jailbird future and with Karl’s help; she begins to hatch a plan.

This novel is fantastic, truly enjoyable and Lindy shines as an unlikely protagonist and shows herself to be truly genuine and likeable. I really enjoyed getting to know Lindy and empathised with her difficult and near unmanageable life. Dealing with grief, family issues, social services and darker issues including drug dealing, Illegal is a fantastic tale of how you don’t have to fall into the traps laid out for you and you can make more of your life if you want to.

A brilliant novel which left me anticipating the third in the series.

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