3 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Nicki Valentine is a young girl living in a poorer neighborhood. She looks tough, acts tough, and knows how to take care of herself in dire situations. After all, she had had to look after herself all her life. Her father, a drunk, could not care for her, and her mother was physically present without ever giving her as much as a loving embrace.
Under Nicki’s tough exterior lurks a wounded and fragile young woman who is still haunted by some terrible things that happened when she was 14. Thankfully, Quinn Halliday, her best friend and also her half-brother is there for her every step of the way, watching over her and keeping her safe. Their bond is strong and unbreakable. It has been so from the very first time the two met many years ago when they first discovered they were family. When Nicki’s past comes knocking on the door, she knows that asking Quinn for help is the only thing she can do if she wants to walk away unscathed from what awaits her in the shadows.
At 230 pages, the book is relatively short, and it makes for a fun afternoon reading. I love noir thrillers, and Blue Valentine by Thomas Cummings is a perfect example of the genre. It has all: the vibrant main characters, the high stakes for Nicki, and a fast-paced plot that doesn’t let you go until you finish the surprising last page. The author not only gives striking descriptions of places Nicki has visited over the years (like the river with the granite boulder she once danced on so selflessly), but he also paints the characters – especially Nicki and Quinn – with a fine-brush stroke. By the end of the book, you feel as if you’ve known these two siblings all your life.
The story, told from Nicki’s first-person perspective, seemed all too real. It felt as if I were sitting across Nicki who was sharing her life story directly with me, with no apologies or excuses. She would say, “Oh, and by the way, in case you’re wondering, no, I’m not sitting over here at Subway in my whites … Just don’t want you getting the wrong picture in your heads.” I enjoyed this refreshing tête-à-tête style of writing.
The narrative would often switch between present and past events, allowing the reader to understand more about Nicki and learn why she became the person she is now: so independent, so free in her sexual escapades, and so potty mouthed in her conversations.
I found the novel suspenseful from start to finish. The main threads opening the first few chapters were neatly tied together at the end of the story. Once you’ve finished reading the book and got over your initial surprise, you couldn’t help but think, “This is the only way it could have ended. It’s perfect.”
Thomas Cummings uses a crisp and authentic voice to weave his tale, and, before you know it, you are drawn into a world that seems very dangerous but all too real. Just like the heroine of this book, our world is full of victims of abuse who struggle with their demons while trying to live a life they can call their own.
Despite finding the story engaging, I have to give Blue Valentine 3 out of 4 stars because of the numerous grammatical and punctuation errors, such as misspelled words (“Ghostly Visitaions”), contractions instead of possession (“It’s picture”), and double words (“Here’s the the thing”). A round of proofreading should easily fix these issues.
Lovers of noir crime, mystery, and action-packed psychological thrillers will have a blast reading the book. I do need to insert a note of caution here. The book has swear words and unusual graphic scenes that might push sensitive readers away, especially those who like to keep clear of stories that cause emotional aversion to social taboos.
View: on Bookshelves
Like kislany's review? Post a comment saying so!