Author: Dorothy Koomson
Dorothy Koomson spins a tale that reads cogently and originally, and that startles in its intelligent demeanor. The tale is an old one – girls sexually, physically and emotionally abused who act out on their terror – and yet Koomson doesn’t follow the script. The Ice Cream girls demands an all nighter – one of those novels that read so true that we linger after midnight to finish and savor the characters into our dreams, and nightmares.
Serena Gorringe, a quiet, docile 15 year old, falls in love with her history teacher Marcus Halnsley, when he tells Serena she is special and offers to tutor her after school hours. As Marcus begins his spider web seduction, Serena finds herself obsessed with pleasing him. Serena is naive, and when Marcus kisses her and dips her further into the abyss, she thinks it is what all girls do. Marcus controls everything that Serena does, and when his adoration turns quickly into torture and beatings at any imagined slight, Serena tries harder to be better. Her sisters and parents have no clue that their daughter’s life is in danger.
Then Marcus ups the ante. He manipulates another young girl, Poppy, scared and unsure of herself, into the relationship with Serena, abusing both girls at whim. The whiff of Marcus’ ex wife screams on the answering machine, accusing Marcus of alluring and seducing young girls while they were married, wafts over Serena’s ears, and yet she believes Marcus is the injured party.
When the girls try to leave him, Marcus attempts to kill Poppy with a knife, and is wounded, but not mortally, in the fray. The girls run off to freedom in different directions, and Serena goes home. She then goes out to call the police and an ambulance to take care of Marcus.
When the two girls are arrested and accused of murder, each thinks that the other has gone back to mortally stab Marcus through the heart with the knife. Serena is acquitted and Poppy is sentenced to 20 years in prison.
When Poppy is released, she finds her family has cut her off completely. Her only friend is Tina, her cell mate. Poppy seeks to clear her name, for she knows that she has never killed anyone. Serena has married a doctor and lives for her family and children, constantly looking over her shoulder. But she too knows she is innocent.
This coiled novel of deception, loss, betrayal, and humanity cleaves itself into a plot that simply continues to coil around itself.
The gift of the Ice Cream Girls resides in Koomson’s subtle theme of the oversexualization of young girls in our culture, although the novel never tells, just shows. Poppy and Serena are the victims, and yet they are constantly punished by society, their families, and the justice system because they are young. Serena’s sisters never quite feel that she is innocent, and Poppy’s family disowns her. Appearance is too important to allow Poppy and Serena to upset the status quo.
Intricate, beautifully written, with a plot that never untwines, The Ice Cream Girls often stuns and batters as we lose our distance and enter their lives. Absolutely stunning and so well written that it seems like the first time we have encountered victimization.
The Ice Cream Girls is available for pre-order on Amazon.com and hits the stacks on April 1st.
Ratings are based on a 5-star scale
Review by Broad “A” – Ava
We received a copy of this title for our book review. All opinions are our own.
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