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Book Review

The Boy Next Door by Josie Lloyd and Emlyn Rees - Book Review

Title
Author
Publisher

The Boy Next Door
Josie Lloyd and Emlyn Rees
William Heinemann

Fiction-Net Rating 5 Star Rated Book

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Cover Story

It's the 1980s in the sleepy English village of Rushton. Mickey and Fred are next-door neighbours and best friends. In and out of scrapes from the day they're born, they share everything from their first cigarette to their first kiss. They're convinced that nothing will ever keep them apart. But they're wrong.

Fifteen years later, Mickey is beginning a new phase of her life with a small flower shop in London. Squeezed into the tiny flat above, she's a loving, if chaotic, single mum, juggling home and work and trying to build a secure life.

Fred, too, has moved on. Surrounded by the trappings of success - an exciting career and a London lifestyle - he's set to marry his gorgeous girlfriend in just a few short weeks. Then he bumps into Mickey for the first time since their worlds fell apart.

Tentatively picking up the threads of their lost friendship, Fred and Mickey find themselves reliving their glory days growing up in Rushton but can they ever really overcome the devastating events that once tore them apart? And is it true what they say about first loves being forever?

Warm, funny and moving, The Boy Next Door is about growing up, falling in and out of love and learning that you're never too old to be a kid.

We Say

Authors Josie Lloyd and Emlyn Rees created a masterpiece with their first co-written novel, Come Together. Using the 'he said, she said' approach, where one character tells the story for a chapter and then the other lead character narrates for the next, the two authors used a system which has been often emulated since but never matched for effectiveness. The hardest task in writing this book was always going to be creating believable characters who we actually care about, whilst using the same 'he said, she said' approach.

The Boy Next Door introduces us to Fred and Mickey (who is, by the way, female). Friends for many years during their childhood, they are split by disturbing events more involving their parents than themselves. Fifteen years later, Fred and Mickey have a chance meeting and the emotions they felt in the past are dragged kicking and screaming to the surface. Trouble is, Fred's engaged and due to tie the knot in a matter of weeks.

The Boy Next Door concentrates very much on the two lead characters, with only Fred's fiancé Rebecca getting much of a look in. Fred's friend, Eddie shows potential for being an interesting character but remains a distant backdrop for most of the story. It would be fair to say that it would have been nice to see a little more interaction with someone other than the central three characters but seeing as were left mainly in the company of Fred and Mickey, do they deserve our attention? You'd better believe it.

The first chapter of The Boy Next Door kicks off with Fred and much time is spent dealing with thoughts of his father, who we learn died in as yet unclear tragic circumstances. At first reading, the first chapter can seem a little slow and the relationship between Fred and his father somewhat muted. However, this is not accidental or ineffective writing and as the story develops, so will your understanding. The second chapter, when we first hear directly from Mickey, is a fast-paced delight which immediately drags the reader into the adventure. From this moment on, you will be in no doubt that what you are reading is pure quality and the pace never lets up.

The story slips in and out of the past, revealing Fred and Mickey's childhood and teenage years together but the amount revealed of their history is cleverly balanced so as to drag you back to the present when you'll be itching for more. As Fred and Mickey wrestle with their feelings for each other, the reader is made to feel the same emotional turmoil being felt by Fred and Mickey. The question to be answered, of course, is whether they can get it together again after all these years, despite the apparently unavoidable obstacles.

More emotionally-hitting than humourous, The Boy Next Door is a superb piece of fiction - Josie Lloyd and Emlyn Rees at their very best.

Review by: Rob Cook

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