WHILE I HAVE YOU
When Justin hires Leah to work for him after school, their interactions quickly shift from guarded and awkward to a mutual quest for knowledge of each other.
Caught up in his inexplicable fascination with Leah, Justin finds himself engineering time for them to be alone.
Leah isn't sure what it is she is drawn to the most; Justin and everything about him, or the amount of attention he gives her. Both are addictive. Leah appears to be mature beyond her years and unaffected by the possibilities her unique relationship brings. However, a series of incidents and revelations will tip her over the edge of what she can handle.
“While I Have You is a book that defies genres, an uncomfortable love story in which you root for the couple at its centre, but almost against your will. This is what makes it so unusual and also so compelling. The story is almost less important than the telling of it. As Harlow delves into a forbidden love that just won't be kept at bay, Justin and Leah's relationship unfolds with a constant sense of unease, as a reader you can't relax but you also can't stop reading. The writing is lyrical and perceptive; it lures you into sharing the characters' sheer joy in each other as well as the raw pain it produces. Multi layered doesn't quite do it justice. I found myself constantly questioning how on earth this could end happily, and came out at the end a little exhausted, and reminded of the complexity of love and how it can shape lives, for better and for worse. A great read from a new author. Highly recommended.”
“While I Have You is a genre-defying coming-of-age story of complicated and unconventional love. Strongly character driven, it challenges the reader's own perceptions of what is right and acceptable. On the surface, the attraction between the teenage Leah and the older Justin is deeply unsettling given their age difference, but Harlow's succinct prose and alternating point of view allow the reader to explore the grey area between outright condemnation and wary acceptance. This is brave writing, particularly for a debut author. The pacing is spot on and Harlow's natural dialogue is a major strength. The later part of the novel, set in Cambodia, evocatively captures all the uncertainty and discomfort westerners can feel when thrown into an unfamiliar and seemingly dispassionate culture. This is an excellent debut from a writer to watch.”
About the Author
A C Harlow currently lives in Ealing. She studied novel writing at Faber Academy in London. While I Have You is her first novel.
January 26, 2021