Published by Michael Joseph
Publication date – 18 March 2021
Source – review copy
Ten years ago, Mo arrived at the white cliffs of Dover, befriended by teenagers Cali and Jude.
They thought they’d save each other, yet within months their friendship would see two of them dead and the third scarred for life.
Now documentary maker Tarek and his film crew are in town, asking difficult questions about what happened that summer.
Because in the shadow of the white cliffs it’s easy for people and their stories to get lost . . .
And as Tarek will discover, the truth is something that must be unburied carefully.
Or it might just it bury you . . .
10 years ago Cali and Jude made friends with Mo, an illegal immigrant. Within months two of the three are dead. Now a documentary is being made about what happened a decade ago. Whilst Tarek, the film maker is determined to find out the truth, someone else is determined it will stay buried.
Whilst the story takes place amongst the wide open cliffs of Dover there is a claustrophobic feel to it. This is partly due to the fact that the story centres on a few characters. It is also due to the closed off feel the town gives to those trying to make it to land. It appears that the population have shut themselves off and turned their back on those trying to make to those white behemoths.
Jude is a character easy to dislike. At the beginning she is slightly manipulative, but as the story progresses more of her character appears, and there’s more of it to dislike. Cali is kind but troubled, no doubt partly because of her mother who seems to have forgot the mothering part of her role. Cali is keen to help Mo, someone who has nothing and her intentions come from a good, altruistic place. Rose, Cali’s sister, is busy fighting her own demons but has to face them when Cali makes a dramatic cry for help.
Although there is a mystery running through the story, at it’s heart is a prediction, currently ,some would say, coming to fruition, about the ramifications of the referendum and the bringing to the surface racism and prejudice that had been bubbling under the surface of society for years. It is 10 years after the results and yet there are still protests, violence because those who are fleeing terror want to seek refuge on these shores.
The story split into episodes, much like the documentary Tarek is making, beginning with scenes being set and then alternating between 2026 and 2016, with the former featuring viewpoints from Tarek, Jude and Rose. This works well, layering up the story and allowing the reader to imagine the locations and scenarios. My attention did waiver at some points where it felt the story was a little bit long but those bits passed and I was soon caught up again.
This is not a whodunit, or a howdunit. It is more of a story of circumstances colliding with politics and prejudice, a story of secrets and lies and misunderstanding.
About the Author
Natasha Bell grew up in Somerset and has lived in York, Massachusetts and Chicago. She moved to London in 2015 to take an MA in Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths, where she is now pursuing a PhD. She writes from her home in south-east London and teaches Creative Writing at City Lit. Natasha’s debut His Perfect Wife was published by Michael Joseph in 2018.