Title: Walking on Trampolines by Frances Whiting
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: A
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
Praised as “a tender exploration of friendship, families, and first love” (Liane Moriarty, New York Times bestselling author of The Husband’s Secret), this coming-of-age novel from bestselling author Frances Whiting is equal parts heartwarming, accessible, and thought provoking.
“Tallulah de Longland,” she said slowly, letting all the Ls in my name loll about lazily in her mouth before passing judgment. “That,” she announced, “is a serious glamorgeous name.”
From the day Annabelle Andrews sashays into her classroom, Tallulah ‘Lulu’ de Longland is bewitched: by Annabelle, by her family, and by their sprawling, crumbling house tumbling down to the river.
Their unlikely friendship intensifies through a secret language where they share confidences about their unusual mothers, first loves, and growing up in the small coastal town of Juniper Bay. But the euphoria of youth rarely lasts, and the implosion that destroys their friendship leaves lasting scars and a legacy of self-doubt that haunts Lulu into adulthood.
Years later, Lulu is presented with a choice: remain the perpetual good girl who misses out, or finally step out from the shadows and do something extraordinary. And possibly unforgivable…
It’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce.
Walking on Trampolines by Frances Whiting is an absolutely beautiful novel of friendship, family, love, betrayal and forgiveness. This captivating story is a wonderful mix of humor that is laugh out loud funny and tender, poignant moments that are heartbreakingly sad. The true to life characters are multi-faceted and flawed but so likable and sympathetic it is impossible not to root for them as they experience all of the joys and sorrows of life.
Despite their very different backgrounds, Tallulah “Lulu” deLongland and Annabelle Andrews became instant friends at the age of twelve. Neither girl has what would be considered an ideal home life but they each find enjoyment in one another’s homes. Lulu helps her dad raise her younger brothers because her mother suffers debilitating depression for much of her childhood. Annabelle’s parents are eccentric artists and her alcoholic father is more reliable than her less than maternal mother. Nonetheless, the two girls giggle their way through adolescence and support one another through the various ups and downs of their respective lives. But their once rock solid friendship comes to an abrupt end after a shocking betrayal and although Lulu and Annabelle eventually reunite as adults, a split second decision once again threatens their relationship.
Lulu is a wonderful lead character; genuine, kind, loving and incredibly loyal. She is, in so many ways, the anti-thesis of the much more outgoing, rather dominating and larger than life Annabelle. Their friendship is all consuming, intense and excludes Lulu’s other friends, Simone and Stella. In the wake of devastation, Lulu retreats into a safe life until she is forced to step out of her comfort zone. Leaving her family and small town behind, she begins working for a dynamic radio personality who is as wise as he is crass.
Annabelle is, surprisingly, an enjoyable character to get to know. Without a doubt, she is self-centered and she hurts Lulu is the worst possible way, but it is impossible not to like her. In spite of these flaws, Annabelle is Lulu’s staunchest ally and supporter throughout their childhood. As an adult, despite their strained relationship, Annabelle is there for Lulu when she needs her most.
The secondary cast of characters is quirky, well-developed and quite appealing. Lulu’s childhood friends Simone and Sophie are complete opposites but incredibly supportive of her no matter what mistakes she makes. Lulu’s boss and friend Duncan McAllister is deeply flawed but this just adds to his (sometimes dubious) charm. It is impossible not love Lulu’s dad, Harry, who depends on her more than he should but always has a comfortable shoulder for her to lean on when she needs one. Lulu’s mom, Rose, is such a heartbreaking character as she battles to overcome the depression that keeps her from participating in the lives of her loved ones. And, of course, the list of favorite characters would not be complete without mentioning the lovable canine, Barney, who provides Duncan with the means to aid Lulu as she makes peace with her past.
Walking on Trampolines is an emotionally compelling novel of redemption, forgiveness and love. With much laughter and a few tears, Frances Whiting brings life’s messiest moments vividly and unapologetically to life. An absolutely breathtaking story that I absolutely loved and highly recommend.