One of my favorite things about British school stories is the idea of girls who become sort of obsessed (asexually) with other girls. It's a weird thing to like, I know, but novels written in the fifties and sixties are better at discussing this phenomenon that we all experience -- finding a person we think is SO COOL that we emulate them and want to BE them, and get just a teensy bit obsessed and Single Whatever Female about them. These novels, like Anne of Green Gables or The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie always describe it as an infatuation -- and that's what Chloe has for Davinia.
Chloe is only a year in to her life at a dead dull British private school where the girls are all insular snobs, and she's already had to chameleon herself in order to find even a patronizing friend. Recently, her mother has left her father for a new man, and Chloe finds her father home after work with red-rimmed eyes and an inability to do anything to move on. At seventeen, Chloe hasn't moved on either -- she is devastated, furious, and ...numb. When Davinia comes in as a new student -- with her interesting hyphenated last name, and her perfectly awesome looks and her "screw all of you" attitude, Chloe sparkles back to life. She realizes that she needs a change -- an exciting friend who does fun exciting things, takes risks, and really ...lives. When Davinia asks Chloe to accompany her on a summer holiday to Malta, she agrees immediately, envisioning a glamorous summer ahead.
There is glamor, yes, huge, lavish parties, hip and trendy bars, and the works, but there's also a lot of other stuff Chloe hasn't counted on, including manipulation and rage and the scary feeling that she's been invited on the trip to be unpaid companion and keeper to an increasingly hostile, erratic and evil-tempered Davinia. Davinia's parents, who'd seemed so welcoming, turn out to be cold and utterly unconcerned with anything but their own comfort. Chloe -- broke, out of her league and desperate -- feels like a hostage in a beautiful place. It's time for her to make another change -- for herself.
There are a lot of beach reads about a girl falling into bad company and finding out that an ultra-rich, ultra-perfect girl is a scheming spoiled brat whose outrageous behavior gets old quickly. But, there haven't been a whole lot of novels where the girl says "Enough," and stands on her own. Kate Cann has crafted a realistic and utterly charming novel about a girl who goes from infatuation with who she isn't to being in love with who she is.
Look for this book -- Mediterranean Holiday in the U.S. (what a thoroughly uninspired and insipid name -- did they think we'd never heard of The Tempest and didn't know what a sea change might be???), and Sea Change in the UK -- and enjoy.
Buy Sea Change from an independent bookstore near you!