A quick but intense and gritty read!
I was kindly gifted a copy of this from Scribner in exchange for an honest review.
Heatwave by Victor Jestin
Translated by Sam Taylor
Leonard is an outsider, a seventeen-year-old uncomfortable in his own skin who is forced to endure a family camping holiday in the South of France. Tired of awkwardly creeping out of beach parties after only a couple of beers, he chooses to spend the final Friday night of the trip in bed. However, when he cannot sleep due to the sound of wild carousing outside his tent, he gets up and goes for a walk.
As he wanders among the dunes, he sees Oscar, one of the cooler kids, drunk in a playground, hanging by his neck from the ropes of a swing. Frozen into inaction, he watches Oscar struggle to breathe until finally his body comes loose and falls lifeless to the ground. Unable to think straight, he buries Oscar in the sand and returns to the campsite where, oppressed by the ferocious heat and the weight of what he did and did not do, he will try to spend the remaining hours of the holiday as if nothing had happened.
Let’s begin by saying this is an extremely short book at just over 100 pages but despite the size it sure does pack a punch!
How would I best describe it? A snapshot in time, of one moment and the hours after it as we see just how Leonard copes with the decision he made.
Whilst I did find what Leonard did to be very strange and out of character (I imagine if the book was longer this could be explored more), if I was to ignore that then it’s definitely a great story that gets under your skin. It really shows his turmoil over what he’s done, alongside the dramas and angst of being a teenager!
The descriptions of the heat really helped add to the intensity of it all as things heat up with Leonard not just in romance but also with the guilt he is feeling.
Overall if you’re looking for a quick story which is gritty, intense and explores the ups and downs of adolescence then I encourage you to give this a read.