Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Head of Zeus for the opportunity to read the amazing book, Amber by Heather Burnside.
At the beginning of the book, Heather Burnside explains that this has been the most difficult of her novels to write, because of the sensitive subject matter of sexual abuse. She feels it is a story that needs to be told. Sexual abuse takes place every day, often swept under the carpet.
The Present: We meet Amber. She is a prostitute and a drug addict. She is at work. As she puts on the costume requested by her client, a school uniform, and her hair in two pigtails, memories surface. Distressing memories from her childhood.
The Past: Amber used to be Amy. Amy lived with her parents Loretta and Greg, and younger brother Nathan. They lived in a big house in an affluent suburb, they had lots of friends. Her dad died suddenly, changing everything. Loretta, a stay-at-home mum, discovers that she has no employable skills to be able to get a job.
It didn’t take long for the debts to accumulate, forcing her to move the family to a rented house on a housing estate. Soon her friends from the old neighbourhood stopped contact and with Loretta’s posh clothes and accent, the school mums in the new neighbourhood ignored her. To cope with the loneliness, one glass of wine a night soon became two glasses, one bottle of wine a night soon became two bottles.
As the debts accumulate again, she remembers words from a previous friend “You’ll meet a nice man one day and marry and get out of this place”. Loretta makes it her mission to begin dating again.
Amy realises that when her mother has a boyfriend, who she is to call Uncle, there is always food in the house, there are gifts and her mother is happy. Over time there are a lot of Uncles. One day Loretta is made an offer that she feels is too good to refuse, as it would solve all her financial problems.
The Present: We journey with Amber as she works in her profession and gets to know her co-workers. The highs and lows of their lives, with a surprising twist towards the end of the book.
Although Heather says it was a difficult book to write, it is not a difficult book to read. Amber is a character you engage with and feel her pain and suffering. The story is told in a sensitive way, swapping between her past to her present.
This book is well worth the read. It is not just Amber’s story, but Loretta and Nathans too, as they face their individual challenges.
It is a thought-provoking book, reminding us that should someone disclose that they have been abused, that they are believed and supported to get the help they need. A wake-up call for us all.
A brilliant read. 5 stars.
Amber is the 4th book in the series “Working Girl” books. I will certainly be reading these other three!
A selection of Beauty and Lace club members are reading Amber by Heather Burnside. You can read their reviews below, or add your own!
I love to read, any book on any topic. I now love ebooks as they are easier to store, I was running out of bookshelves! My other interests are family, gardening and our beautiful King Charles spaniel dog who is my reading companion.