Title: Lily’s Just Fine
Author: Gill Stewart
Genre: Fiction/ Romance/ YA
Favourite Quote: ‘’It’s peaceful. I look out at the grey sea and white mist that might just possibly be lifting. The only sounds are the hiss of waves on the shingle, the distant call of the gulls. Colour is coming back into Lily’s face and her wild hair is spread out over the hood and the sand. She’s still for so long I wonder if she’s fallen asleep. She hasn’t.
She says dreamily, “I like being out here. Far away from everything.”.
“Aye, it’s good to get away sometimes.” I wonder what she could possibly want to get away from, but don’t ask. I just watch her. When she opens her eyes I should look away. Staring at her like this is way to personal. But I don’t, and after a minute she smiles.’
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley.*
Lily Hildebrand has everything she could ever want at 16. The popular boyfriend, a loyal best friend, a wealthy lifestyle, lives in a beautiful big house overlooking the river, but most importantly, she knows want she wants and doesn’t let anyone hold her back. Some might call her arrogant or opinionated, but Lily simply doesn’t like to hide away from the spotlit if she’s able to push her ideas onto various events and clubs around school to help improve them. Her mum could be a bit more supportive of her decisions and ideas but that’s just something Lily has come to accept and move on from. Once she has her mind on something, it isn’t easy for her to back down from it. As long as there is a way to make it work, Lily will make it work. Even when Jamie decides to break up, it doesn’t stop her from pushing through instead wasting time and dwelling on it, her summer schedule is going to be constructive and productive with or without a boyfriend, and the Newton St Cuthbert’s annual gala is just the thing!
Tom Owen couldn’t be any further away from Lily in social status if he tried, he’s happy to observe the crowd from a distance, keeping his thoughts to himself and his lifestyle quiet and content, looking after his sick homebound sister. His main social interactions lie with Gemma, his neighbour who he’s know since they were young, who happens to be Lily’s best friend. Not that they every do anything as a group. Gemma’s friendship is a quiet one that suits their personality much better. But when Tom gets pulled along to the Newton St Cuthbert’s annual gala meeting with Lily leading the charge for change and a young persons perspective that can’t be ignored, he knows it isn’t going to end well. He isn’t surprised when she suggests that he takes charge of a mini regatta for the gala week since he sails boats as a hobby. Organising a regatta isn’t going to be easy, especially when part of his obligation is teaching Lily how to sail. Unfortunately, saying no doesn’t exactly come easy for him, particularly to Lily who is very convincing.
‘Lily ploughs on. “I really wouldn’t mind learning to sail. Especially if you think it’s necessary.” She grins at me. “So how about you give me a couple of lessons? When you’ve got time, of course.”
I really should have known better than to make that suggestion. Instructing Lily Hildebrand in anything would be a challenge, but I really can’t see her being at home on a boat. I sigh. I want to back out but can’t see any way of doing it now without losing face.
“Okay, fine.” I say and try not to notice her smile growing even broader because she’s getting her way yet again. I shake my head. How did I get into this?’
I wasn’t sure what to think with this story. It wasn’t a typical teenage love story by any means although whether it was supposed to be, I’m not sure since there was a love interest with the main protagonists but it didn’t feel very passionate or emotional like you would expect. I found that the characters were slightly undeveloped so you didn’t feel or relate to them as much as you probably would have liked.
The story was told in two perspectives, Lily and Tom. Lily was a strange character, she was intense and very enthusiastic which whilst this was refreshing for a teenage protagonist in a young adult book, you felt there wasn’t much more to describe her and her personality so the author gave up trying to refine her further. The only time she felt anything different is when her mum became sick, but even then she’s just in a state of shock and doesn’t know what to do. For the first time ever, Lily feels useless and doesn’t want to do anything productive. It doesn’t last long though so you question whether she actually came out of the experience any differently.
‘”It’s not up to you to do anything, Lily. You don’t have to take charge all the time.”
“Hmmph,” I say. I know he’s trying to be helpful. “But I want to make things better.” He doesn’t say anything. A thought occurs to me. What if he feels like this about Sarah, but he knows there’s nothing he can do?’
The story does include some serious issues with mental illness, but the author doesn’t capture the true emotions behind it which I felt could have been more refined. Lily’s mum suffers from depression which escalates into a difficult situation for the family. Tom’s sister has been back and forth from hospital consistently weak and fragile for years without anyone knowing why. It’s the illnesses in their families that give Lily and Tom something to relate too by the end, but besides that, I found that there isn’t much chemistry between the two characters. They share a kiss which they were both surprised about, they go on a date, but besides the want to be around each other which they are struggling to admit subtly, you don’t feel much more which is disappointing.
I thought the storyline was good and the settings were great, you were able to put yourself into the scene clearly, but besides that I’m sorry to say I wasn’t too impressed.
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.