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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Looking for Alex. A winning first novel., 23 Dec 2013
This review is from: Looking for Alex (Kindle Edition)
I had no idea what to expect from Marian's novel, but the blurb captured me, as did the entire book. Compelling, well-crafted, the characters brought to life in a thoughtful manner, oozing the 1970's punk era but managing to bridge the decades into 2013. She understands the teenager`s angst of that time and uncovers those hidden parts of everyday life that determine the direction we go in.
This was the first time I had ventured into eBooks, thinking that the feel of paper was a must, but I was wrong. This had me glued to the iPad, what DID happen to Alex? An unexpected ending made this a winner for me. I can't wait for Marian's next book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Page Turner of a Debut!, 13 Jan 2014
This review is from: Looking for Alex (Kindle Edition)
From the first page to the last this book had me hooked. I found the characters really believable and Marian has captured the turmoil of adolescent years with a sympathetic and skillful touch. I enjoyed the contrast between 1970's London and the present day and her writing evoked a nostalgic longing for the summers of my youth where the only obstacles to life were not being found out by your parents! She touches on painful subjects relevant to many teenagers and explores how that might shape and inform our adult lives. Her writing appears deceptively simple but is all the more powerful for it, with not a word wasted. I found this an intriguing and enjoyable read and would definitely recommend it. I await with interest further work from this author
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5.0 out of 5 stars A well-crafted coming of age novel, 11 Oct 2014
This review is from: Looking for Alex (Kindle Edition)
Sheffield, 1970s. Two seventeen-year-old girls, Beth and Alex are the best of friends. They’re inseparable, until one day Alex goes missing without a trace. Beth is shocked: where did Alex go? Determined to track her down and knowing that Alex must have had her reasons, Beth refuses to help the police. When Beth discovers that Alex has travelled to London with no intention of coming back, she decides she must travel down to pick her up. It is a decision that will change her life.

Looking for Alex is a well-crafted novel by Marian Dillon. A coming of age novel based in Sheffield and London, the story is set both in the 1970 punk-era and the present day. Dillon’s novel is full of contrasts; it pictures what seems a safe middle class environment in the north of England and moves to a dilapitated London suburb where sex and drugs experimentation is rife.

For a brief moment, Beth can see the attraction of living with a bunch of punk squatters and when she meets Fitz life is perfect. But Alex’s boyfriend, squatter Pete has darker motives, preying on the young and vulnerable.

The story shows a ‘before’ and ‘after’ picture of restricted teenage life and ‘free’ adults – and all its consequences. As the past becomes the present, Beth and Alex seem trapped: will they ever be able to reconcile with the past and accept who they have become?

This is Dillon’s first full-length adult novel, having previously written books for children. Dillon’s story is refreshing, well written and to the point.

Dillon convincingly deals with the topics of lost friendships and abusive relationships. Describing the development of two stroppy but forward-looking teenagers into adulthood, with all their dreams and fears, is done with conviction.

Thanks to the timeframe, teenage to adulthood elements and romantic touches, this book reminded me of David Nicholls’ One Day. If you liked this bestseller, you will certainly enjoy Looking for Alex.

Marian Dillon’s second novel is planned to come out later this year.
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5.0 out of 5 stars she finds herself face to face with her first love while trying to find the elusive 'Alex' of the ..., 14 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Looking for Alex (Kindle Edition)
Anyone who has had a significant person in their past, with whom they have since lost contact, will be stirred by this book, which depicts a woman of middle years suddenly confronted with a spectre from her mis-spent youth. The man who steps into her 'mature' life was on the fringes of an exciting and disturbing period in Beth's life, and now, a couple of decades, a marriage and son later, she finds herself face to face with her first love while trying to find the elusive 'Alex' of the title. In fact the quest to re-connect with the 'best buddy' of her teenage years ends up being more of an excuse for Beth to explore and question her own emotions, and most importantly those of her long lost lover, Fitz. The plot draws you along, back and forth from the '70's to the present, sharing the memories of post flower-power hippy-dom, eager to see in whose arms Beth will end up. I read it in two sittings.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Review, 17 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Looking for Alex (Kindle Edition)
Interesting book and easy reading.

Would recommend it to a friend

Don't need to write anymore words thank you very much
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent debut, 8 Jan 2014
This review is from: Looking for Alex (Kindle Edition)
This book grabbed my attention from the first paragraph and I found it difficult to put down. The intriguing and well-paced storyline flips between present day and the late 70s with each time handled very evocatively. It is really well-written with clever descriptions of surroundings and everyday items. The personalities of the main characters pop off the page and there are lots of vividly portrayed emotions uncovered as the plot unwinds to its conclusion. A very good read - I am certainly keen to read more from Marian.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good read!, 5 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Looking for Alex (Kindle Edition)
This is a very well-written book, with good characterisation and an engrossing story. I hope there are more books to come!
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5.0 out of 5 stars wonderfully executed novel!, 7 July 2014
This review is from: Looking for Alex (Kindle Edition)
Firstly thank you to Marian for getting in touch with me about possibly reviewing her book. The blurb caught my interest and I'm really glad I agreed after finally getting through some of my teetering TBR pile to read it.

The story is all about main character Beth and her search for her best friend Alex, who has ran away from home in the 70s. After finding her once, Alex goes missing again, this time seemingly for good.

Beth narrates this time flip novel throughout. The story is told between 2013 and the summer in the 70s where it all took place. Present day Beth is in her fifties, 70s Beth is in her mid teens, only beginning to discover everything that life holds for her but the disappearance of her best friend flips her life completely on its head. So don't worry if you think you won't be able to relate to her, having two versions of herself make it really easy to get to know and enjoy her character. The story starts in the present day and gives us a look at Beth's life as it is now.

I didn't like Alex at all from the beginning of the story. I thought she was awful and inconsiderate running away and then putting Beth in the precarious situation she did. By starting the story off in the present day then the whole story unfolding after that, it was more and more obvious how Alex's second disappearance had such a negative impact on Beth's life. It almost felt like Alex didn't care what the consequences were for the people round about her.

In the 70s scenes we go through the motions with Beth, finding Alex after the first time she ran away and then everything that happened in the short time after - her first love, her first taste of independence. I really like Fitz's teenage character and his relationship with Beth. He seemed the polar opposite of Alex in terms of maturity and really seemed to have his head screwed on right.

As the present day story unfolds, chance meetings mean that Beth starts to think about everything that happened once again and we go with her on her journey to confront all of those secrets and face up to the past. I thought the book really picked up pace the further in I read and it was a real page turner waiting to see what was going to happen. Overall a good read from Marian with a cleverly structured story and a developed cast of characters. If you liked this, or the sound of it, you should also check out Yesterday by Sheila Norton.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Loved the bits set in the past, 15 Jun 2014
This review is from: Looking for Alex (Kindle Edition)
This book sounded really intriguing, so was really happy when I was accepted on Netgalley.

This book flits between two times, the present day and then the 70's, when Alex went missing from her hometown. I think the present day bits to start with were a bit dull, but picked up as the story went on. Whereas I found the parts set in the 70’s really interesting and vibrant the whole way through the book. I thought the setting of the book was really good and really well set, it was easy to imagine what it was like in the squat.

I really liked a lot of the characters from the past Jenny and Michael were delightful, I would love to know them in real life. I also really liked Celia, I didn't think for a second she was jealous of Alex, protective over what she knew about Pete. Of course I hated Pete from the outset.
Regarding the main characters, I liked both Alex and Beth, but I wanted to knock their heads together at times. Of course, looking in from the outside this is easier said than done.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, but found it quite a slow read during the present time period. However, as mentioned above, the vibrancy of the parts set in the past more than make up for this. I will definitely be checking out Marian’s books in the future.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Must-read!, 6 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Looking for Alex (Kindle Edition)
Brilliant read - very keenly observed so that you could almost watch it as a film in your mind's eye. A book I truly couldn't put down, read in one sitting and which left me disappointed I'd finished. Can't wait for the next novel from this great writer!
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Looking for Alex
Looking for Alex by Marian Dillon
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