Sylvie and Carl have been friends since they were tiny children. They’ve always played together, eaten with each other’s families, called each other boyfriend and girlfriend and deep down, Sylvie has always believed that they’d end up married to each other. They even have a magical fantasy world that belongs to them alone — and the glass hut where it’s all created, at the bottom of Carl’s garden.
But as they become teenagers, things are starting to change. They each have different friends. Sylvie would still rather spend all her time with Carl. But Carl has a new friend, Paul, who is taking all his attention. And he seems much less happy to be called Sylvie’s boyfriend. And in a game of spin the bottle, he avoids having to kiss her. Sylvie can tell his feelings have changed and that her plans for the future may be affected. But can she guess at the true reasons behind it all? A moving, compelling and delicately handled treatment of sexuality from the Children’s Laureate.
“I never ever thought I’d feel like this. I thought I’d just coast along somehow. I’ve always been careful…I felt so safe, you and me and our own private world. I didn’t have a clue about what it’s like to fall in love. It’s frightening because it’s so intense, it kind of takes you over. It’s just like every stupid cliché, every silly song. You can’t eat, you can’t concentrate, you can’t sleep. You just think about the other person all the time, even though you know it’s crazy…I knew I didn’t stand a chance…and yet I still sort of hoped that somehow it would happen.”
Sylvie and Carl…Carl and Sylvie. They’ve been joined at the hip their entire childhood. Their families have blended over the years, but whatever the circumstances their friendship has remained a constant. In fact Sylvie has secretly always believed that they were destined to be together and would marry. They poses their own private world which comes to life in the Glass Hut at the bottom of Carl’s garden and have always kept it fiercely private.
As they grow up things start to change…They go to different schools, making new friends. Yet, Sylvie still secretly yearns for those moments when she and Carl can play GlassWorld in private. Carl seems to have moved on with his show-off friend Paul who takes up all his time and attention, much to Sylvie’s annoyance. Suddenly it seems to Sylvie that things may not turn out the way she has always dreamed.
Reading Kiss now I can see the twist coming, but putting myself in the frame of mind of the average 13-16 year old I probably wouldn’t have foreseen it. Wilson handles every aspect of this novel so delicately and seems to step away from her usual family-focused subjects to really examine the anxiety and emotional rollercoaster that teenage love and heartbreak brings to Sylvie. However, she also manages to weave in the story of Sylvie’s single mother finding new love for herself after years alone.
I loved the imaginary world that Wilson created for Sylvie and Carl in GlassWorld and honestly I would just love to read the GlassWorld Chronicles that Sylvie and Carl write throughout the novel. The way that the Chronicles were woven through the story really helped the audience to understand Sylvie’s personality in more depth and therefore sympathise with her as her perfect world shatters around her.
Another stunning Wilson masterpiece which has been added to my favourites and has set a new bar for Wilson’s older teenage reads. Powerful, emotional and touching exploration of teenage heartbreak and sexuality.