Sunburn by Chloe Michelle Howarth | June Book of the Month Review

“Now is the time between birth and slaughter. Another summer has arrived…”

June’s pick for one of our Books of the Month is a SCORCHER. Sunburn by Chloe Michelle Howarth is the sapphic summer read you need in your life, so keep reading because we’re about to tell you exactly why.

Sunburn is a literary coming-of age that captures the similar minutiae of romance as Normal People, and the gorgeous poetric descriptions of Call Me By Your Name. Before we get into all that, here’s what the story is really about: It’s the early 1990s, and in the Irish Village of Crossmore, Lucy feels out of place. The conventional paths of marriage and motherhood don’t sit right with how she views her future. During a long, hot summer, she embarks on a whirlwind, all-consuming romance with her school friend Susannah, sending her into an emotional tailspin.

Fearful of rejection from her small and conservative community, Lucy is determined to keep the whole thing a secret. But as her school years come to a close, she’s also confronted with the possibility of moving out of her small town and facing a new kind of future she’d never considered before. Two futures, two loves, and two places tear her apart. Each option as terrifying as the other.

I love a good coming-of-age, and Sunburn really delivers everything I need from a coming-of-age novel. The tone of the book feels literary and gorgeously descriptive, but Lucy’s voice still shines through every word. You can really empathise with the anxiety, excitement and the drama of it all. She will remind you of the heart-skipping moment of kissing someone new for the first time, and the mental turmoil of trying to make decisions for a future you can’t quite see yet.

The relationship between Susannah and Lucy is extremely fun to read — their romance really burns bright. Sunburn covers 1989-1995, and in that time you’re taken on the complicated ebb and flow of the relationship, which has its intense conflicts as well as tenderness. As I said before, this book really reminded me of Normal People and Call Me By Your Name, mainly because of how it zooms in on the complexities of being so entwined with another person. Romance is theoretically at the heart of these books, but really they are about the many ways you can feel about someone, not just the lovey dovey parts.

I really recommend getting this book in for summertime because of how well it captures this time of year, and feeds into the atmosphere of it. Whether you’re looking for a great beach read, something for your book club, or a queer romance, Sunburn is a book you need to get on your shelves.

Please reach out to your local Turnaround sales rep to order into your bookshop.

Sunburn by Chloe Michelle Howarth in out from Verve Books on 22nd June 2023.

9780857308412 // Paperback // £9.99

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