Firstly, I just want to thank Nia Lucas and Rachel’s Random Resources for allowing me to take part in the Blog Tour for this book and providing me with a free copy of Choices Shape, Losses Break in exchange for an honest review.
**Please be aware that this book contains challenging themes, very strong language throughout and some strong sexual content. If that’s not your cup of tea, this is not the book for you**
Shunned and struggling at home and school, teenager Lorna Davies clatters into chaotic and charismatic Shay O’Driscoll and Leon Barrett at an illegal rave in 1995. As Lorna’s talent for dancing sees her unexpectedly employed in the strobe-lit heart of 90’s club culture, her world is turned on its head by her budding friendship with Shay and Leon. For the boys, their high-risk lives endanger all three of them in an association that blurs the lines between friendship and dependency.
As the risks escalate, Lorna’s best friend Hannah, her brother Dan, her bully-turned-protector Nico and her unexpected friend Rosa watch with concern as she is thrust ever closer to harm in an intoxicating new landscape. When life-threatening events threaten to separate them permanently, Lorna, Leon and Shay juggle love, loyalty, sacrifice and exploitation as their lives change beyond recognition. Will the losses they face break them all?
Lorna at the start of the book is 15 years old. She’s at an illegal rave with her current boyfriend, Gary, who ends up ditching her to go throw up and she’s left alone. She ends up becoming acquainted with Justin, who ends up taking her under his wing. It becomes clear that Lorna has a pretty natural talent for dancing and event organiser Nath (who’s friends with Justin) is impressed. He offers her a regular job as a podium dancer in nightclubs, as long as she doesn’t let anyone know her age! At this illegal rave, and through her new found friends Justin and Nath, Lorna finds herself being introduced to a pair of London lads called Shay and Leon.
Lee and Shay have both come from a very broken background, growing up in care without their parents being there for them. They frequently got themselves into trouble with the police. Despite living far away from them, and knowing they can be a troublesome pair, Lorna starts to really fancy them… both of them, right from the moment she meets them. She takes on the work with Nath in the clubs in the hope that she will get to see them again soon.
Lorna’s best friend, Han, knows about what is going on and really isn’t impressed with what Lorna is doing. Not only is she worried for her friends’ safety, there’s also the major concern that their GCSE exams are just around the corner. Lorna’s mum is super strict and quite frankly hates her own daughter. Lorna’s antics are carefully and meticulously planned in order to avoid her mum. Most of the time she says she’s sleeping at a friends house, when really she’s in a city she doesn’t know either at a nightclub doing her dancing job, or staying at Shay and Lee’s flat.
The boys learn that some drug dealers they used to know were being released from prison and they thought they’d go straight back to causing trouble. They were right. Without spoiling too much, there was a pretty major incident involving Lee and Shay that landed them both in hospital with life threatening injuries. Lorna was from a quiet suburban neighbourhood where there didn’t seem to be much trouble and the incident was something that really bothered and traumatised her.
The relationship between Lorna, Leon (Lee) and Shay is an interesting one. Right from meeting the pair, Lorna knew she wouldn’t be able to choose between the two of them, so she chose them both. As time goes on, she develops a sexual relationship with both the boys, completely neglecting to listen to what her friends have to say. There is quite a lot of sex in the book and usually I don’t enjoy reading anything like that. However, I found that in this book, compared to others I have read, the sex scenes aren’t as descriptive and smutty, so I didn’t find it too bad! I also feel it would be impossible for the characters to develop without it.
As the relationship between the three develops, the boys become much more dependent on Lorna. They don’t know how to cook or fend for themselves and Lorna very quickly finds herself looking after them. She’s thrown very quickly from high school student to someone dealing with adult responsibilities very quickly.
I’ve read a few other reviews from other people on the Blog Tour and they’ve spoken about how the book has made them reminisce of their teenage years going to clubs and such in the 80s and 90s. However, this book was set a few years before I was even born. I have pretty bad anxiety and have never been on a night out, so I really couldn’t relate to any of that! Being born closer to the turn of the millennium, I’ve pretty much always grown up with technology in my life. I loved how this book was set prior to things like mobile phones and computers being in every household. It never even crossed my mind that people used to have to go to phone boxes to call their friends if they didn’t have a landline to their house! (how very millennial of me).
I think the characters are written so well, and you can really see how they develop throughout the novel. Lorna really develops into a feisty little redhead, who isn’t willing to take crap from anyone, including her mum, teachers and the boys. Though there were times I genuinely felt worried for Lorna’s safety (I know it’s a book, I know it isn’t real, but I was worried), I really do love the person she became. Told from Lorna’s first person perspective, the way Nia Lucas writes definitely made me love Lorna more than I think I would if the book was a third person POV. I’m just a sucker for first person, let’s be honest. Having the book first person, allowed the author to add Lorna’s thoughts which weren’t spoken aloud in and I think that definitely made the book funnier, and more witty.
I even came to really love Shay and Lee.. Lee in particular, I still thought Shay was a bit of a wild card! The final 20(ish)% of the book swaps from being Lorna’s POV to Lee’s and with this switch, it goes back a few years so you can find out a little bit more about the pair, how they met and things like that. This is mentioned earlier in the book, but I think going back makes it an important reminder that they’re completely broken souls and it’s hard for them to act like ‘normal’ people due to the things they’ve seen and experienced in their past.
Overall, I did really enjoy this book! It was a book I understood right from the very start, which is always a bonus. I often read books and have no idea what’s going on until I’m a few chapters in. I’d say that if you’re like me and aren’t usually a fan of romance and sex scenes in novels, that you shouldn’t let it put you off the book. Like I previously said, it wasn’t as horrendously descriptive as some books I’ve read and the storyline wouldn’t be what it was without it. This book is a little on the longer side, coming in at just under 500 pages, but it was gripping and it kept me wanting to read and read and read until I’d finished. (I read the majority of the book in one day). I also know it’s been a good book when I get a little bit sad when the book is finished. It was one of those fictional worlds that I’d have loved to continue to immerse myself in!
There was a snippet of “Futures Beckon, Pasts Threaten” which is the sequel to Choices Shape, Losses Break and that will definitely be a book I read once it is released. I can’t wait to get back inside Lorna’s head!!
My rating: ☆☆☆☆☆/5
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