As much as I enjoy reading it's been a long time since I've read one, so I felt quite accomplished when I finally managed to finish this! I got this out the library hoping the time limit would spur me on, but in the end I had to renew it and I was still late returning it. I really need to take more time to read instead of wasting time on the laptop!
Anyways, I really enjoyed this book and found it different to what I usually go for. I thought it would be your usual romantic novel but it's much less fluffy and much more deep and poignant. It's about a Russian girl called Alena and a London boy called Dave, who meet when she gets caught shoplifting at the shop where he works as a security guard. Right from the start he is captivated by her, and though she initially sees him as a source of safety away from her life on the streets, they quickly fall in love. I feel like they were never just friends though. Their relationship isn't cliché or predictable, it is real and full of the ups and downs of genuine relationships. As much as they love, and indeed need each other, they both have secrets they don't want to share, for fear of ruining what they have though they know it's causing the opposite.
The characters are very well written. You feel like you really understand them and their background. What sets it apart from the standard chick lits is the fact that it deals with some difficult subjects such as sex trafficking, prostitution as well as illness. The grittiness isn't glossed over in any way and it can leave you feeling uncomfortable. It's a very 'emotional' story and the way their feelings have been portrayed is fantastic. It makes it so easy to empathise with the characters. The chapters alternate between Dave's story and Alena's, which I feel it keeps it going at a good pace. I did feel a bit frustrated at times as I just wanted them to be honest with each other and open up fully. I suppose it did make me want to read on though, to see how things would develop. I also enjoyed that it was set in two countries. A culture shock on both parts to begin with, but it becomes apparent that there are similarities between Dave's impoverished upbringing in a London estate and Alena's small Siberian town. I don't want to give too much away, but suffice to say it's well worth a read and I highly recommend it. It's definitely not your average love story!