by Lisa Harding
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Pub Date 25 Apr 2023 | Archive Date 20 Jun 2023
“Shocking—and shockingly good. It is thought-provoking, anger-provoking, guilt-provoking, and—most importantly—it is a brilliantly written novel.”—Roddy Doyle
Thrown together by a harrowing twist of fate, two girls will find hope and redemption in friendship in this award-winning, emotional gut punch of a novel from the author of Bright Burning Things.
Sassy, streetwise Sammy is a teenage girl who is falling through the cracks. Neglected by an alcoholic mother, the problems she endures at school and home lead her into the hands of adults who don't have her best interests in mind. Failed by them at every turn, Sammy acts out, seeking attention from boys, then men, when what she wants most is protection.
Meanwhile, in a small village in Eastern Europe, preternaturally beautiful and naïve Nico is about to turn thirteen and as her family falls upon desperate times, her father is approached to marry her off. Her family knows that the nice life this stranger seems to be offering Nico is too good to be true, but they and Nico hope for the best as she’s shuttled across the border into Ireland, where she and Sammy find one another in their new home, a suburban brothel.
As Nico and Sammy journey into this dark underbelly and out the other side, their friendship—and the unexpected acts of kindness they give and receive—form a potent bond.
Heartbreaking and breathtakingly beautiful, Cloud Girls exposes the failings of polite society and the cruelty that exists beneath its surface, yet reminds us that goodness and love can flourish in the darkest times.
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Average rating from 55 members
Cloud Girls was a tough book to read at times, reminding me of the trauma from another similar book, A Little Life. I really liked the setting, and the grittiness of the two girls getting by in the brothel. It was sad but beautifully written.
In a small village in Europe, Nico is a child, playing with her friend and brother in the trees near their house. Their days are filled with school, games, and swimming. Nico’s family is poor, and when she is promised off to be married it seems to be her ticket out of her community and into something better (even though she is still a child and younger than the other brides). It seems that her life is about to begin.
Sammy is a teenager in a challenging home. She’d rather be anywhere else. One night after staying out too late she makes a decision that changes the direction of her life. Her choices and the terrible actions of others led her down a path that she never would have chosen. Fate throws her together with Nico and the two will face an uncertain future together.
Cloud Girls was an amazing story of the impact of broken family support and a society that doesn’t always see or support actions taken against women. Throughout the story there were family members and friends who should have supported the girls but failed to do so. Both were let down by a society that didn’t prioritize their individuality and safety. The book was haunting and beautifully written. At the end (which I won’t give away), as well as some of the scenes throughout the book really stay with you after the book is over. An easy 5 stars from me—I really enjoyed this meaningful and heart wrenching read.
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