I am not a fan of YA and it may have been long since I read one. I received the ARC of ‘Head on Backwards, Chest full of Sand’ by Sandy Day and was glad to read it. And, I must say I liked reading about Livvy, the 17-year-old protagonist and her naïve love story with Kane.
The writing is smooth and at its racing speed, you can finish this book within hours. Livvy is a relatable character, representing the teenage years and the idyllic belief in true love, plus happily-ever-after stories.
Livvy can talk about nothing but about Kane, her boyfriend. She calls herself sensitive and poetic. Poetry for her is a way to express her thoughts and feelings and of late, Kane has become the inspiration behind her poems. She even penned a poem called ‘Gothic Burlesque’ after their night rendezvous. The story is set in the late 1970s in Canada, so it is kind of nostalgic going back in time. Sandy Day presents the women of that time through Livvy’s mother and her sister, Donna.
Livvy has plans to stay with her Aunt Donna in Cape Breton for a few weeks. While Livvy leaves Ontario, she is daydreaming about how Kane would follow her to Cape Breton, a place which she beholds as romantic and wild. Her ultimate goal in life is to live happily ever after with Kane.
‘My love for Kane was like that. A pushing ice. A power that terrified me. O knew it was capable of breaking everything inside me in an instant. Nothing was permanent. And I hated that.
This summer would be different. If Kane felt the wanderlust as he did last year, he would follow me.’
On the other hand, Livvy’s parents disapprove of Kane. They feel that Kane is way too older for Livvy, though Livvy couldn’t understand why a four-year difference was made out to be such a big deal.
Livvy’s parents are concerned over her grades and want her to concentrate on completing school instead of wasting time over a boy. Livvy’s father doesn’t approve of Aunt Donna either for getting a divorce from her husband. So, the time at Aunt Donna’s house is crucial to reveal if Livvy’s puppy love shapes into a mature love story or disappears as vapor.
Aunt Donna is the only person in whom Livvy could confide her love for Kane. For Livvy, Donna is her idol. Donna is a beautiful, independent woman who is raising her children single-handedly after the divorce.
With Aunt Donna, Livvy begins to understand and adjust with the community in Margaree Harbor. There are also her young cousins Hellah and Piers bugging her and snatching her precious time from day-dreaming. Amidst the house renovations, an irritating man is trying to hit at Aunt Donna and there are some strange men interested in Livvy too.
‘I wanted her to think I was enjoying the adventure of Cape Breton, as any independent young woman would when she found herself in a foreign land in the middle of the summer.’
Livvy day-dreaming of Kane hitchhiking his way to her and imagining running down the stairs into his arms are fun sections to read. She had no doubts about how awful Kane would be without her, missing her every moment. All that Livvy wants is Kane to see how wonderful Cape Breton is. Sandy Day has made Livvy so vulnerable and naïve that you feel so much for her.
If you want to know what happens to this sweet girl waiting for her prince charming to save her, then do get your copy.
A tender story of love-obsession, the second novel from Sandy Day, Head on Backwards, Chest Full of Sand chronicles a young woman’s coming of age during the height of the 1970s women’s liberation movement.
Teetering on the edge of womanhood, clinging to the first love of her life as if her survival depends on it, 17 year-old Livvy is torn between subjugating herself for love and claiming her identity and independence.
When Livvy, lovesick and artistic, spends the summer with the aunt she adores, she crosses paths with a cast of memorable characters in the coastal community of Margaree, Cape Breton Island.
While Livvy’s cousins torment her, house renovations disturb her, an annoying young islander tries to befriend and teach Livvy to disco dance, Livvy prepares for the much anticipated arrival of her boyfriend, Kane.
With poetic fluidity and breathtaking revelations Sandy Day draws you into Livvy’s obsession. Such a deep dive into the dire and agonizing crannies of a love-obsessed young woman establishes Head on Backwards, Chest Full of Sand as a memorable coming of age story.
For fans of The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing, Lives of Girls and Women, and The Bell Jar, Head on Backwards, Chest Full of Sand promises to immerse you in the world of a troubled but observant young woman coming slowly to terms with love, life, and all its messy relationships.
About the Author
Sandy Day lives in Georgina, Ontario, Canada. She graduated from York University in Toronto, with a degree in English Literature sometime in the last century. Her favourite writing professors were great Canadian poets, bp Nichol, and Michael Ondaatje.
Sandy then took a detour of 20 years to run a gift store and raise a family. Now relationship-free and semi-retired-un-self-employed she finally has time to write and publish.
Sandy is a creative writing workshop facilitator, trained in the Amherst Writers method by the Toronto Writers Collective. Tech savvy, a born marketer, entrepreneurial, and a big picture thinker, Sandy is a dedicated indie author, publisher, and book coach who sells dog halters on the side.