Monday 7 November 2022

Heatwave by Victor Jestin | Book Review

[AD/Gifted: I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

Heatwave by Victor Jestin

Star rating: 

Publisher: Scribner UK

Publication date: 28th July 2022


Oscar is dead because I watched him die and did nothing.

Seventeen-year-old Leo is sitting in an empty playground at night, listening to the sound of partying and pop music filtering in from the beach, when he sees another, more popular boy strangle himself with the ropes of the swings. Then, in a panic, Leo drags the other to the beach and buries him.

Over the next 24 hours, Leo wanders around the campsite like a sleepwalker, haunted by guilt and fear, and distracted by his desire for a girl named Luce. Meanwhile, the teenage summer rituals continue all around him—the fighting and flirting, the smell of salt and sunscreen, the tinny announcements from the loudspeaker, and above all, the crushing, relentless heat...


I love translated fiction and this little novella is really interesting. At just 104 pages long, it is easy to read in one go, it still brings all the emotions and is just as powerful as a novel three times its length.

It opens with the line, "Oscar is dead because I watched him die and did nothing." I automatically knew this was going to be a good one. Our main character, 17 year old Leo (Leonard) is on holiday in a campsite in France with his family. After watching Oscar die, he makes some questionable decisions and as we get a feel for him throughout the book, I found him hard to understand. Did he do what he did on purpose?

I loved the summer setting, end of August in France, his thoughts and desires as a teenage boy and exploring his psyche as much as we can in a little over 100 pages. The ending made me want more. What happened next?!

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