Published: 1st August 2011
Genre: Contemporary, Thriller, YA
Recommended Reading Age: 12+
Celia Frost is a freak. At least, that’s what everyone thinks. Her life is ruled by a rare disorder that means she could bleed to death from the slightest cut, confining her to a gloomy bubble of ‘safety’. No friends. No fun. No life.
But when a knife attack on Celia has unexpected consequences, her mum reacts strangely – and suddenly they’re on the run. Why is her mum so scared? Someone out there knows. And when they find Celia, she’s going to wish the truth was a lie.
A buried secret, a gripping manhunt, a dangerous deceit… What is the truth about Celia Frost?
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I picked up The Truth About Celia Frost. The synopsis was intriguing and it had consistently positive reviews, but I had no idea whether this was a thriller, a paranormal, or something else entirely.
I think it’s actually best to go into this story without knowing too much. There are several twists that I can honestly say I didn’t see coming. The truth about who Celia Frost really is and what her mother is keeping from her is a mystery that will compel readers from page one. I read this through in one sitting and found it a nice change from the usual paranormal, fantasy or contemporary romances I tend to gravitate towards.
The Truth About Celia Frost is a well-written, engaging story that is brilliantly-paced. After a rush trip to the hospital, it’s clear from her mother’s evasiveness, her unwillingness to allow further tests and their hasty change of address, that she is hiding something from Celia. Does Celia really have Hemophilia? Or is her mother suffering from Munchausen’s by proxy? And why is someone paying a lot of money to a dubious private detective to track them down?
Celia is a very likable protagonist who grows in confidence as the story progresses. She is feisty, intelligent and brave, with a strong sense of right and wrong. Singled out and isolated from her classmates due to her Hemophilia (a life-threatening condition that prevents her blood from clotting), and their constant moving around, we are introduced to a picked on and lonely Celia standing up to a particularly nasty bully and holding her own while doing it. I liked her immediately. I also liked that her character felt like a real, flawed, fourteen year old girl, at times acting out and knowing just exactly what to say to best hurt or punish her mum whenever she felt frustrated or betrayed.
The relationship between Celia and her mother is difficult and interesting (and their arguments all too familiar!) Once it becomes clear that Janice is lying to her daughter, Celia no longer trusts her and begins to hate her mother for preventing her from living a normal life all these years. Her confusion and hurt is understandable (as is the way she reacts) but I also really felt deeply for Janice, who does seem to be mentally ill.
Sol and Celia’s friendship was heartwarming and one of my favourite aspects of the book. Since the characters are slightly younger, there isn’t any romance between the two, but they quickly become best friends and I loved how they looked out for each other. It was really great to see this kind of childhood friendship, which for some reason seems to be a rarity in YA. I envied them spending their summer hanging out by the lake, learning to swim, having cookouts and riding around on Sol’s bike.
Frankie, the private detective looking for Janice and Celia, was the one character I wasn’t particularly interested by, and I found his role within the story, and his consequent actions, a little too predictable and run of the mill.
The Truth About Celia Frost also raises some interesting moral and ethical questions but in a way that isn’t heavy-handed or preachy. I felt the truth of Celia Frost, once we learn it, was perhaps a little over the top in terms of believability, but it’s certainly a conclusion I wouldn’t have guessed.
I wouldn’t say this was a gritty, or even an overly dark read, despite the mystery of Celia and the questions it brings up, but it has some likable, relatable characters, a gripping plot line and an easy-flowing narrative that makes this an enjoyable thriller for both younger and older readers.