This review is written with thanks to HarperCollins UK and Netgalley for my copy of Her Turn To Cry.
Joycie Todd first came to the attention of the public working with her dad and his friends in variety shows when she was a child. During this time, her mum disappeared and has not been seen since. Now, famous for her work as a model, she returns to the place where she grew up for the funeral of a family friend, and begins to suspect that there may be more to her mum’s disappearance than meets tdhe eye. Can Joycie discover what really happened?
Her Turn To Cry takes place between 1953 and 1965. The novel has a well defined sense of time, with references to popular music and customs within the entertainment industry at the time. This gives the reader insight into Joycie’s environment and lifestyle and helps to draw them in. However, the novel frequently switches between different years (and stages in Joycie’s life) and whilst this helps to develop Joycie’s background, I often found it difficult to follow and as such, I struggled to maintain my interest.
The environment in which Joycie grew up was full of colourful characters: Kay and Dennis (who formed part of the Bluebirds), her dad’s partner Sid and his wife Cora, and her friend Pauline, whose mum worked in the box office. This gives Curran the opportunity to explore several issues, such as homosexuality (which was illegal in 1953 when the novel begins), child sexual abuse, alcoholism and suicide. These are all very interesting topics, particularly when considered in the context of the 1950s and 1960s, and recent news stories involving high profile celebrities who have been convicted of sexual abuse. However, it feels as though there are too many issues raised in Her Turn To Cry, and Curran’s attempt to fit them all in to a relatively short novel means that not all the characters and the problems they face are addressed in the depth they deserve, and sometimes detract from the overall plot. As a result, I found it very difficult to connect emotionally with the narrative and engage in the novel.
Towards the end of Her Turn To Cry, there is a twist, which does create some tension as the novel reaches its climax. However, as I had not been able to connect with the characters throughout the novel, the twist seemed contrived and I felt ambivalent towards the outcome.
Overall, I respect Curran’s efforts to write about some challenging issues in a way that is relevant to modern society. However, I found that Her Turn To Cry did not live up to its initial promise, particularly its label as a “psychological thriller.”
Her Turn To Cry is available on Amazon