I’ve finally got around to reading The Ice Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson, having been recommended it by numerous friends and family. I have to say, this novel is so great – it really drew me in and I couldn’t put it down!
The story is told from 2 different perspectives; Poppy and Serena’s, both 38 years old and still dealing with the aftermath of an awful event that happened over 20 years ago. Both women were involved in an ‘incident’ as girls which led to them standing trial for murder and branded in the media as ‘The Ice Cream Girls’. Poppy was given a life sentence in prison, but is insistent throughout that she is innocent whilst Serena is acquitted and goes on to have a relatively normal life and her own family – and she also maintains her innocence. With both telling the reader that they did not commit the murder, who is the liar?
Flashbacks reveal, bit by bit, what happened that fateful night and contrasts this with their current lives as adults. Meeting Marcus (first Serena and then Poppy) sets both of their innocent teenage lives spinning out of control and leads to devastating consequences. I don’t want to give too much away about the story, as part of its brilliance is the masterful suspense Dorothy Koomson creates and the sense of intense curiosity I felt, as the reader, when I was dying to know what had actually happened that night.
Touching upon many themes including child-abuse, the British judicial system and what people do for love, The Ice Cream Girls is so well written that I could barely put it down, although many scenes are disturbing and left my feeling very uneasy – but then, the experiences that both girls had to go through were very disturbing in itself and the novel reflects this so well. It felt like I was really drawn into the character’s lives and felt for both of the main protagonists as well as their families, although some were sadly less sympathetic than you would hope family would be. Reading about how their families react to their situations is another aspect of the story that is really interesting.
Poppy’s character is very interesting as she really shows her years in prison, both through the language she uses and the way she behaves. Often she comes across as far more immature than Serena, showing the way prison has affected her social development. Serena, in contrast, has a husband and children who are her world, and she is determined not to let them find out about her chequered past.
Apparently there has also been an ITV drama made too, but I have yet to see it – I’m not sure it could possibly measure up to the book but I will have to give it a watch and find out!
I read The Ice Cream Girls without knowing too much detail about the storyline, and felt that added to the suspense even more, so I won’t give any more details in this review but would just thoroughly recommend this as an absorbing, thought-provoking novel. There were a few parts where I felt that even the savage UK media would not have behaved this way towards two fifteen-year-olds, but it wasn’t a massive issue. I was still blown away by this book and I’d love to hear your opinions too!
My rating: 4.5/5