Writing in the Sand is a young adult novel written by Helen Brandom, an author I cannot help but appreciate and admire for a number of reasons. Brandom is not afraid of bringing forward topical social dilemmas such as teenage pregnancy and gives an enlightening insight to young carers’ lives and the issues they may face. Brandom delivers these perspectives through her main character, Amy, who is the sole carer for her mother. Amy is constantly afraid of social services who may intervene due to her mother’s ill health and have a devastating impact on herself and her family. She then discovers a surprisingly new problem that involves a premature baby.
The main plot is enjoyable for readers, although does start very slow. The story elements are impressive, daring and well suited for the modern young adult genre, however there are some critical issues with the book that does hinder its success. Unfortunately Writing in the Sand does provide underdeveloped characters with vague backgrounds, and there are several occasions of weak imagery within description that will leave readers disappointed and prevent many from becoming truly immersed in what is essentially a good story. Other reviewers have gone to say that they did not find Amy a compelling character. This may be because the literary standards of young adult fiction has increased significantly over the recent years, and the audience expects characters to be more strongly defined. If this book becomes republished, minor edits such as describing the body language of characters, showing emotion rather than telling the audience directly and building up stronger personality traits, would make this book become an incredibly desirable read.
Writing in the Sand is Helen Brandom’s debut novel, and it brings me great joy to discover that she is writing another called ‘Truth Hurts’. Brandom is an author with a great deal of potential and a passion for writing about emotional situations involving young adults. I look forward to reading her new work in the future.