Wednesday 16 May 2012

Illegal by Miriam Halahmy

Pages - 268
Published by Meadowside Fiction in March 2012
Lindy opened her eyes and stared at the cot. Swinging her legs sideways, she sat up and leaned over the wooden bars to straighten the pink flannel sheet as she did several times a day. Sean had laid out his cars at one end in a neat line. She looked at Sean in his bed by the door. His thin face peeked out from the duvet, eyes closed, mouth open. There was a slight whistling sound as he breathed in and out.
Goodreads Summary
If Jemma had lived, none of this would have happened. I'd have been too busy to get dragged into this filthy, illegal business...
Since Lindy's baby sister died, her family have been caught in a downward spiral. Her brothers are in prison and her parents have given up. Soon Lindy is out of her depth too, caught in the centre of an international drugs ring, with no way out. Then Lindy finds help from an unexpected ally: weird, mute Karl from school, and together they plan a daring and desperate escape. But when you're in this deep can you ever be free?
This is the second book in a cycle of three novels set in Hayling Island. I have a bit of a soft spot for this series as Hayling Island isn't that far from where I live, so I find I can totally related to the setting of the books. It feels like I am reading about a neighbouring village.  The author clearly shows there is more to a UK coastal village than fairground rides and an ice cream hut. Real life occurs there,just like everywhere else, when the tourists go home, people still have to live there.  I love how each book is linked to the other but can be read as a stand alone. There are no cliff hangers waiting to catch you out. 
I read Hidden last summer, which I really enjoyed, so I was really pleased to be given the opportunity to read this one. Lindy, the main character in Illegal featured briefly in Hidden last year. Her appearance in the first book, didn't really allow you to warm to her. She came across in the first book as being a bit of a bully. However in this book, you get to see the whole picture and realise that Lindy is only tough when she has to be. Her life has been quite traumatic for someone so young and she has shouldered a lot of the burdens of her family, as her parents crumbled under the death of her little sister and her brothers  are banged up in jail. Lindy is a fighter, and she is just fighting to survive. You can see why she is taken in by her cousin, Colin, to begin with, as she is desperate for money just to make sure her little brother eats. 
I loved Karl! From the first mention of him, I had a soft spot. He was written so beautifully; so different to Lindy, yet they were so right for each other.  They meant so much to each  other, they needed each other to grow and survive; like the medication they needed to breathe freely.
This book is bursting with realism; there is no fun and fantasy here, just real life at it's most grittiness. The author really knows how to tackle difficult and often delicate subjects, making them accessible to the YA market.  I actually think this book is more dramatic and intense than the first. It was like watching an episode of The Bill - no nonsense, no messing about - the author tells it like it is.
A great, realistic series, that puts a little coastal town back on the map. 


  1. Many thanks for such a great review Viv and so glad that you like the second book in the cycle. STUFFED, the third book comes out next March and it's Jess' story. Another completely stand-alone novel.

  2. I'm really intrigued by this cycle of books and want to start with Hidden. Also, I'd never heard of Hsyling Island before Miriam's books and I thought it was fictional at first. Good to know that they work as standalones too.

  3. Hearing a lot of good things about these books, I'm glad that the second proved every bit as good as the first.

  4. I do like that this subject has been written about and in a yA book.

  5. Vivienne, I'm glad you enjoyed this book, and now have the whole picture as well. Terrific review!


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