Review of The Falling in Love Montage by Ciara Smyth, Audiobook narrated by Alana Kerr
I’m not a Young Adult book fan but I’ve heard so many good things about this novel that I’ve decided to listen to the audiobook. I’m super happy that I did because it’s one of the best I’ve listened to this year so far.
Saoirse doesn’t believe in love. At 18, she has suffered enough by seeing her mum affected by early-onset dementia, a condition she could inherit. But when she meets Ruby, an English girl spending the summer in Ireland, she agrees to have a summer of fun by recreating every cliché found in rom-com movies. What they didn’t consider is that the rom-com characters end up falling in love for real…
The Falling in Love Montage is so right up my street. Despite the cover and title, this novel is far from a sweet romance and deals with difficult issues such as family ties, dementia, coming of age, and first relationships. Fortunately, it finds a very much needed balance with self-deprecating humour, naivety, friendship, and sweet first love. But overall, this is a bittersweet coming of age story.
The novel is written in first person from the point of view of Saoirse, an Irish eighteen-year-old girl navigating a complicated family life along with typical young adult challenges regarding career choice, love, and relationships. Saoirse is trying to find her own path confronted with the curve balls that life has thrown at her. Possibly not by chance, her name means freedom in Irish.
Saoirse and Ruby are polar opposites who complement each other well and have great chemistry. As this is YA don’t expect explicit sex but both are really sweet together. Their conversations, shenanigans, and montage dates are a pleasure to read. The secondary characters, especially Saoirse’s mum and dad, Oliver, and Beth, are all very well fleshed out and bring depth to the story and authenticity to Saoirse’s experiences.
Having said all that, for me personally, the setting of this novel made it stand out from many others of its kind. Most of the time that Ireland is used as the background to a lesfic novel I’ve been disappointed with the result. Having lived in Ireland for a decade with an Irish partner, I crave authentic representation of my place in the world. Some authors tend to disregard some crucial details about this country which are very obvious to us, for example, the shitty weather. Ciara Smyth doesn’t fall into this trap, possibly because she’s Irish herself. I loved that the depictions of the weather, sports, school life, and language sounded one hundred percent authentic. She even has a laugh at the way American-Irish actress Saoirse Ronan incorrectly pronounces her own name. I understand that well as my two sons have Gaelic names virtually unpronounceable outside Ireland (incidentally, we were going to call our second child Saoirse if she was a girl).
The audiobook was narrated by Alana Kerr who seems to have a natural southern Irish accent, very suitable for this novel. She can also do very good northern Irish and English accents which provide an authentic experience to the listener, but it’s still easy to understand for a wider audience. Ms. Kerr’s performance of Saoirse’s self-deprecating, sarcastic and despondent personality is spot on, as well as the range of different emotions that the characters go through. It is one of those books that benefit from an excellent narrator like Ms. Kerr. An absolute pleasure to listen to, though I might be slightly biased. 5+ stars.
Length: 9 hours, 53 minutes
This audiobook doesn’t seem to be available in Audible at the moment of writing this (February 2021)