On Dublin Street by Samantha Young
5* – I cannot recommend this book highly enough
I’m going to apologise straight off the bat. This is going to be a review of gushing praise. It’s been a long time since I read a book that I genuinely couldn’t put down, that made me laugh until I cried and that left me thinking about it long after I’d finished the last page. On Dublin Street was all of those things. I’ve been a fan of Samantha Young for just over a year and have read most of her YA novels, so I really didn’t know what to expect from her first foray into the world of adult literature. To say I was pleasantly surprised would be a gross understatement.
The story revolves around Joss Butler and Braden Carmichael *swoon*. Joss lost her family to a car accident and has moved to Scotland from the States to escape from it all. Braden is a wealthy business magnate who happens to be the older brother of Joss’s new flatmate Ellie. It’s a story about love, about friendship, about redemption and mostly about how sometimes you need a little help laying your ghosts to rest.
Joss is funny, witty, brave and yet damaged. There is so much depth to her character and the way Samantha has portrayed her panic attacks is spot on. You don’t ever forget the way they make you feel, or that moment when your world crashes down around you. The way Joss deals with it is maybe not the healthiest, but there is no way to rationalise irrational guilt. It’s easy to understand how losing everyone you love would make you afraid to care again. It irritates me that so many have likened this to 50 Shades. Joss is not some vapid watercolour of a girl. She’s fiery and strong and intelligent. Plus she has her own money so it’s not exactly a Cinderella story. She’s an immensely likeable character.
When Braden crashes into her world, he upsets everything. He’s brash, cocky, determined and fiercely loving and sets about crawling under Joss’s skin in any way he can until she eventually gives in to him. I cannot lie. He is my new favourite male character. Of. All. Time. His occasionally filthy texts made me snigger outright and boy is he sexy!! *fans self*. That whole scene in the club where he tells her he doesn’t share and then makes out with her on the desk? I fear I shamed myself utterly with a series of unintelligible fnnnrrr noises. There was swooning. Much swooning. When you discover that he too is damaged by past hurts, it only makes you like him more. I think what’s great about his character is that Samantha hasn’t made the mistake of so many other contemporary authors, who seem to think we all want to read about guys who are possessive to the point of domestic abuse. Braden is possessive, but he gives as much into the relationship as he takes out and he’s not creepy about it. It was refreshing to read about him after all the 50 shades inspired, 2-dimensional, whiny control freaks.
Ellie as a supporting character is brilliant. As a reader, you fall in love with her from the first moment she turns up to show Joss around the flat wearing a fake moustache. Her sweetness shines through as a counterpoint to all the darkness around her in the book and makes it all the more poignant.
As expected, the book is steamy and emotional in places, but it’s also surprisingly funny. Runner up for the giggles award is the moment where Joss literally kicks Braden out of bed. First prize goes to the sausage comment at the French restaurant. I laughed so hard I dropped my kindle and snorted tea through my nose. I was in helpless giggles for a good hour afterwards. I’m still giggling about it 24 hours on.
All that said, I think the raw power of this book is in the way you see yourself in the characters. I read the whole thing in one sitting and then sat up until 5am, unable to sleep because it made me think about things. We’ve all been through some dark stuff in our lives. Some have just walked more shadowed vales than others. The point is, we all kid ourselves that we’re fixed or that we’re dealing with it. I suppose some of us are. But if we’re really honest, how many of us have put our ghosts in the iron box in our hearts and forgotten about them instead of actually dealing with them? When you read such a powerful story about a woman who has to face up to her ghosts or destroy her life, it’s hard not to feel shamed into examining your own feelings and thoughts. I read things about Joss and saw them in myself, things I’d had no idea were even there. There are things I still can’t talk about, can’t think about, even though I thought I was ‘fixed’. That’s where the power of this story lies, and I think I’ll be carrying it with me for a long time to come.