Sunday, 19 June 2016


This is the story of teenager, Olivia (Liv) Bloom who lives with her alcoholic mum and older sister, Hatty. When her mum is taken into rehab, Liv must face the trials and tribulations of teenage life alone. And even if the readers life differs from Liv's, teenagers will immediately relate to the problems in Liv's - friendships, peer pressure, bullying, poverty, sibling rivalry and school. Added to the mix is the fact that Liv knows almost nothing about her absentee father, and naturally is curious.

The real strength of this book is in the characters. Each is especially well developed, flawed and believable. Liv herself is kind-hearted but fiery in temperament, stubborn, and appropriately immature. The other characters that populate the book are equally flawed which made me empathise with them - even the bully, Mad Dog. I particularly liked the fragile and fuel-soaked relationship she has with Liv. There is one particular gruelling bully scene, but the other encounters between the two are equally as frightening, and painfully real.

Because Murray's characters are so well-rounded and complex, the relationships between them feel very real to the reader. In fact, everything about this book feels REAL, which is why I loved it. The events and characters are so realistic, one wonders if there's quite a bit of autobiographical detail in here?

I thought the way the novel was structured around a recipe book was inspired and original. Indeed, I loved the title of Liv's recipe book so much I thought it would make a great title for the actual novel - Recipes to Make Happiness Bloom. But I like Caramel Hearts too!

This book is immensely readable, written in a language to reflect Li'v's life - simple, but underscored with emotion and complexity. A most enjoyable read!

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