Good afternoon! It’s a little bit strange having a bank holiday on a Friday when it’s not Easter! It’s a shame that due to current events we can’t all come together to show our admiration for those who fought in the Second World War. I’ve taken some time this morning to think about my granddad who was in the Royal Navy during the conflict. His ship was part of the force fighting in the Far East and his part of the conflict would continue on for several more months, he wasn’t even 20 when the war officially ended in the Far East, but he got to come home when so many didn’t.
That was a little deep for the beginning of a book review post, but I thought it was important to acknowledge the day. Sweet Cherry Publishing got in touch with me and asked if I was interested in being involved in the blog tour for Gemma’s Not Sure the second the in Galloway Girls series by Gill Stewart, a sweet YA set in Scotland sounded great so I agreed and they very kindly sent me a copy of the first book in the series Lily’s Just Fine and that’s what I’m reviewing today ahead of my stop on the blog tour next week!
Title: Lily’s Just Fine
Author: Gill Stewart
Publisher: Sweet Cherry Publishing
Publication Date: 11th July 2019
This book was received from the publisher in return for an honest review
About The Book…
Lily couldn’t have planned life better herself. She lives in the best house in town and she’s dating the most popular boy in school. Everything else she can fix. Mum’s apathy? On it! The stuffy gala committee? Watch this space! Tom has enough on his plate without trying to drag Newton St Cuthbert into the 21st Century. His sister is sick and there’s nothing anyone can do. Not doctors, not his parents, and certainly not Lily Hildebrand. Sail away this summer with the unexpected romance of Scotland’s most determined teenager. Perfect for fans of emotive YA stories.
What I Thought…
Summer is just getting underway in Newton St Cuthbert; exams are done, and Lily Hildebrand is off to the ball she planned. The ending isn’t quite as she expected though when her boyfriend breaks up with her so now, she needs to find something to fill her summer with so that everyone else will know she’s just fine. The book moves relatively quickly throughout the summer as Lily decides on her plans and takes steps to make them happen, whether everyone else wants them to or not! For me it was a quick read, but at the same time despite the amount of time that’s covered in the story it didn’t feel rushed, just nicely paced. I got all the information I needed without it feeling either bloated or as if I were missing something.
Lily’s Just Fine is told from the point of view of Lily herself and Tom a boy from school who manages to find himself right in the middle of Lily’s plans for the summer. I generally quite like stories told from multiple viewpoints and this was no exception. I feel like I got to know the characters a bit better than if it had been told only from one. Both point of views being written in the first person means that we see the other characters through the eyes of Lily and Tom, and naturally there is some bias there, but at least as we have the two viewpoints some of that bias is balanced out. We get introduced to a wide range of characters, some I liked more than others, Jamie definitely falls into the ugh category but I’m going to talk a little bit more about four characters I felt were central to the story.
I’m going to be honest I’m not sure I could be friends with Lily in real life. She’s not a horrible person by any stretch of the imagination but she is full on! I strongly suspect that we’d clash fairly dramatically the moment I decided I wasn’t really up for whatever she had planned. That said as the storyline with her mum developed, I did feel some of my irritation with her easing off, for me she defiantly became more likeable towards the end of the book.
I warmed to Tom much more quickly, I think due to some personal experiences I was probably more empathetic to him from the beginning, when I was maybe 15 or 16 my mum developed Post Viral Fatigue and although she’s more or less absolutely fine now there was a good period of time where she was just too exhausted to do much of anything at all, and that was tough both on her and the rest of the family. I liked the way he stood up to Lily, he didn’t always get his own way, but he didn’t let her walk all over him either. I think that was a bit of a different experience for Lily, so I’m not entirely surprised she ended up falling for him a little bit…
Gemma intrigued me, she’s definitely a worrier, to almost quite extreme lengths. As Gemma wasn’t the focus of this story, we didn’t really go into much detail about why she worries so much. I wonder if there’s something in her past that makes her worry about even some quite small decisions. I know the second book in the series focuses more on her, so I’m intrigued to see if we discover more about her.
I want to give a special mention to Sarah too, she’s possibly my favourite character within the book, and not just because we share a name! I think she has a really interesting story to tell, from what it’s like to have your friends begin to desert you when they realise you can’t come out and do the things you’ve always done, but also the other side of it, what her life is like as she begins to regain some energy and manage to do more. I’m not sure what the rest of the plans for the series are but I’d love to see a book focusing on Sarah.
I want to take a moment to talk about the setting briefly. I admit that since I moved to Scotland back in 2009, I’ve been an east coast girl, first studying at the University of Dundee and more recently living in Fife and working in Edinburgh. My trips to the west have mainly consisted of the odd trip to the Glasgow offices. That said Dumfries does actually have a special place in my heart, it’s where my dad and I stopped off for the night when he took on the mammoth drive from Devon to Dundee to get me to uni, and I was also part of the procurement team that worked on the new Dumfries & Galloway Royal Infirmary, I even took a trip down their to see everything in place before services transferred across from the old hospital. This book really made me want to take another trip back down and explore more of the coastline. Although I’m not sure I’d trust myself out in a sailing boat!
This was such a cute read! For me it was a little bit of escapism during some difficult times. It’s not that the book doesn’t deal with some more difficult subjects, both long term illness and depression feature in the book, as well as intolerance from some members of the community but it wasn’t a difficult read. Now don’t get me wrong I definitely appreciate a hard-hitting book but right now I’m not in the right headspace for that. I gelled with some characters more than others but I’m looking forward to catching up with them this weekend.
About The Author…
Talented YA and romance author Gill Stewart has nine adult and teen novels to her name. She is a longstanding member of The Romantic Novelists’ Association and The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Her romance novella, Rachel’s Coming Home, was shortlisted for the Joan Hessayon Award in 2009. Young readers described Gill’s YA series as “really wonderful” and recommends her stories to “anyone who loves contemporary YA”.
Connect With Gill
Want To Buy It?
As always if you’ve read the book let me know what you thought! If you’ve not read it yet will my review convince you to pick it up?