A gripping, dark novel about betrayal, sexuality and the loss of innocence.
Shadowing The Sun has dark beautiful prose, unusual characters and a gripping storyline. Dunn is an excellent writer and I will definitely be reading more of her work.
As an avid reader, I read a lot of books and only a few books leave a lasting impression. I often finish a book, place it back on my shelf and I then read another book, without thinking about it again. Shadowing The Sun was a rare find, after I finished the book, the story and the characters still had a lasting affect. The emotional roller coaster of Sylvie’s story gripped me and I still had a lot of unanswered questions after reading the book.
Shadowing The Sun revealed the terrible consequences of neglecting your children. I was moved by the essence of the story. It was written from the perspective of 12 year old Sylvie. An inquisitive, innocent girl who craved to be loved by her father. The point of view switches from her twelve year old self to present day and it is clear that whatever happened when she was 12 was still having a lasting effect on her present life.
Dunn achieved a perfect balance of naivety and innocence in the tone of the narrator. Sylvie was visiting her father’s commune in Italy for the summer with her brother Sam and her two friends Max and Josie. Whilst she was there her father was neglectful towards her, her father’s friend Jeet abused her trust and Sylvie learnt that things are not always what they seem.
The story showcased the shocking truths of how quickly innocence can be taken and how one summer can affect not only the present but impact the future too. Dunn also captured the feelings of being a teenager perfectly, the story was gripping and sinister at times but also had some light-hearted moments too. What I loved about this book was how Sylvie wasn’t judgemental, which is real to how children actually are.
With beautiful prose, the author created a smooth transition between the flashbacks of Sylvie’s childhood and the demons that affected her in her adult life. At the age of twelve Sylvie was caught in the shadowy space between being a girl and a woman, Sylvie was fascinated by the behaviour of her father’s colourful friends. The men were like predators, circling her, touching her, and constantly commenting on her looks. Sylvie’s vulnerability and innocence shines through very clearly because she doesn’t see that it is wrong for them to treat her this way.
Towards the end of the novel, everything is revealed and we find out that that adults in Sylvie’s life failed her when she needed them the most. They were completely unaware of the terrible things that happened that summer in Italy which explained why as an adult Sylvie found it difficult to trust and love her partner Jack.
We discover that she had chosen a career as a photographer, which is her way of taking control – ‘Now it’s me who’s behind the camera, no-one has to see me. I’m the one taking the picture now.’
Dunn crafts the crescendo of the ending brilliantly – adding in subtle clues and hints throughout the novel. This book really got under my skin and I found it a compelling read, the story and the characters have stayed with me ever since. Shadowing the Sun is a perfect choice for those who love a gripping plot.
Rating – 5/5