Genre: Contemporary New Adult
Publication Date: 10/12
Source: Received from author for review.
Ceara’s desperate for love; Seb’s desperate to get laid. Ceara adores reading novels; Seb hasn’t finished a book in years. Two strangers, both moving from small country towns to Brisbane – the big smoke. As they prepare to attend the same university, their paths seem set to collide, but they keep missing each other. Maybe fate is keeping them apart, or maybe it’s just chance.
When the semester starts, things get complicated. Ceara’s best friend withdraws from her, Seb’s closest mate turns into a sleazebag, and the relentless demands of university make their stress levels soar. Before their first semester is over, both Seb and Ceara will be forced to question who they are and what they want from their lives. Will they have the courage to find the answers, or will they crumble under the pressure? And when they finally meet, will it be love at first sight or a collision of headstrong personalities?
The Big Smoke was a very interesting read for me. When I received the review request, I was hooked at the words "Australia" and "Contemporary New Adult". That's pretty much all I needed to give the book a try.
I thought The Big Smoke would be primarily a love story. The story of Seb and Ceara, adjusting to university life and falling in love. But what I got was two parallel stories, told simultaneously, of two people who were troubled by issues from the past, each making their way and learning valuable lessons about themselves in Brisbane, "the big smoke".
Ceara, who carried a huge burden from her childhood, was a girl many can relate to. She was studious, quiet, and reserved. She felt that having a serious boyfriend would make her happier, and imagined herself falling in love with any guy who paid her attention. She's losing her best friend, and gaining a new, pushy but well-meaning friend, and her identity is lost in the mix. But as time passes, and she begins to become more self-aware, she gains a lot of insight and becomes a lovely, self-assured woman.
When Seb arrives at university, his goal is to make his father proud, and to finally get laid. He's a bit lazy, and not very thoughtful, and sort of coasts along. In meeting new people, and having his eyes opened to the world and what he thought was true of his life, Seb begins to grow up. He takes responsibility for his life, and realizes that finding the right girl is more important than simply going all the way.
So while you have two individual transformative stories, there is also the cool intersection of Seb and Ceara lives at the beginning of the story, and wondering if they'll ever cross paths again. Throughout The Big Smoke, they are leading lives within striking distance of one another, being in extremely close proximity and having mutual friends. I loved reading about them individually, knowing they each never stopped thinking about the other, and wondering when if/when it would actually happen. I will say that the first twenty-five percent of the story, with the establishment of the characters and their new lives/routines, was a bit slow for me. Not so much that I ever experienced true frustration, but I wanted to move forward in their journeys. As they story progressed, though, and I could feel Seb and Ceara inching closer and closer, I couldn't stop reading, and I ended up loving the last portion of the story.
The Big Smoke was a quiet, character-driven story that had a lovely take on self-worth, growing up and letting go, and fate.
The Beatles girl's eyes reminded me of rock pools at the beach, the ones that are always overflowing with sea water. When you stared into them, you could tell that heaps was going on beneath the surface. Lara's eyes were more like potholes that had been filled with mud from a storm. Nothing wrong with the color, but no depth at all. ~32%
For so long, I'd carried that ocean inside me. I'd let its waves crash against me and drag me under.
Not any more. ~ 91%
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