I don’t know where to start in reviewing ‘Mine’ by Emily Merrill. Tragic. Heart breaking. Gripping. Unapologetically beautiful. ‘Mine’ encapsulates themes from abuse, trauma, friendship and ambition in a neat 378 pages. I was all in, from page one. I’m a keen reader, but it’s been a while since I last delved into the world of literature, life gets busy sometimes. This book was the perfect way back in. I found a home in Avery; I found a friend in Emily and her words.
‘Mine’ is Emily’s debut novel. A Leeds alumnus, she studied Geography before her graduation in July and has since moved to York with her cousin to further pursue her writing career, and life, post university.
‘Mine’, a YA novel follow the path of Avery, an English Literature student at York uni from a small coastal town in the North West of England. The novel starts with Avery being half-way through her second year at university when, her long-time boyfriend, Luke moves to the city to be close to her. The initial chapters discuss Avery’s past with her family and friends, and how her relationship with Luke had grown around this. It becomes quickly apparent after the initial few chapters that Avery’s life is about to change in a drastic way. After making a new friend in Beckett, the handsome and charming writer, Avery’s boyfriend Luke starts becoming jealous and controlling, which throughout the novel spirals into pure, unadulterated abuse. The novel follows Avery’s life as she tries to hold onto her relationships with her friends and family, staying true to herself, whilst also keeping Luke happy. A heart wrenching narrative that had me on the edge of my seat and the brink of tears at multiple points. The signs of a master storyteller.
For fear of spoiling this excellent read, I shan’t divulge too many details as this defeats the point of a review. However, I will say, the character development in this tale is a marvel. No instant remedies, and no quid’s in plot twists. It was realistic, and horrific and harrowing in a way that encapsulates the tales of many experiences of abusive relationships. Whilst this novel is fiction, and not based on personal experiences, Emily has managed to capture the many variants that, unfortunately, come hand in hand with such a union in a sensitive and unexaggerated way. A totally gripping plot from start to finish.
I would also like to address a side character. Maia. Whilst not being given a label, she is clearly not straight. LGBTQ+ inclusion and existence in literature is still rare, and often feels uncomfortable, at least from what I’ve noticed. However, Merrill did not shy away. Maia is a small character, but she packs a punch, arguably one of my favourite individuals within the novel. It’s been a while since I read any book that had an LGBTQ+ character that fell naturally into the narrative, rather than as a token character for the gays. A needed, natural moment of inclusion and one that, despite not being central to the integral plot of the novel, had a lasting effect that was handled tastefully and written well.
A beautifully written, tragic, story of a young woman, finding her footing in a world ready to tear her down. ‘Mine’ tells the tale of love, loss, and loathing in Avery’s battle against domestic abuse and her recovery. Five stars for Emily Merrill, I fell in love with Avery and the world she has created. An old school wordsmith with a knack for difficult topics. Bring on novel number two; Merrill is a star in our midst, and one to watch.
Image Credit: Waterstones