By Frances Whiting

Gallery (February 3, 2015)

Reviewed by Linda Lindsey Davis

Walking on TrampolinesWalking on Trampolines by Frances Whiting presents the universal themes of growing up: best friends, first love, losing and finding your way, rebirth and renewal. The story is set in Juniper Bay, a small coastal Australian town, where two young girls become best friends.

Tallullah (“Lulu”) de Longland is the poster child for good behavior at St Rita’s School for Girls in Juniper Bay. She is the toothy, freckled, 12-year-old in the well-pressed school uniform, holding up the seventh grade girls class sign for school pictures. Lulu’s father Harry is a plumber (DeLongland Plumbers-Plumbing the Depths of Excellence). Lulu’s stay-at-home mom struggles with anxiety and depression. While life can be a bit bumpy at times, for Lulu it is predictable until Annabelle Andrews arrives at St Rita’s.

Twelve-year-old Annabelle Andrews is everything Lulu is not. She is tall, thin and cosmopolitan. She is the only child of two well-known artists whose house in Juniper Bay is a crumbling structure covered with overgrown trees and guarded by gargoyles at the gate. Annabelle’s father Frank has a taste for alcohol and her mother Annie has a taste for other men as well as alcohol. Lulu and Annabelle become best friends and continue to be, until Annabelle leaves town right after high school graduation with Josh, the boy Lulu loved.

Unable to forget Annabelle and Josh, Lulu languishes four years until her parents insist she go to the city and get on with life. Reluctantly, Lulu leaves Juniper Bay, moves to the big city, and takes a job as a personal assistant for Duncan McAllister, a talk show host.  She masters her new job, meets and moves in with a new boyfriend and begins to move forward. An invitation to Annabelle and Josh’s upcoming wedding catapults Lulu back to the past and she must decide: should she attend the wedding, or not?  Her decision puts into motion a series of events that affect her new life, Annabelle and Josh’s life and the lives of their families.

Frances Whiting’s book is filled with clever dialog, finely drawn characters and situations that are humorous as well as emotionally touching. This book, Whiting’s first novel, is not simply a coming of age story, but rather a story about growing up, letting go of the past and moving on.  Look for more books by this gifted story-teller. A highly recommended read.

LINDA LINDSEY DAVIS is a contributing author of LitChat. Read her complete bio here.