Charlie Lewis is that kid at school that nobody really notices. Not a bully nor the bullied. Not a swot nor at the bottom of the class. Not sporty or musical. Rarely puts his head above the parapet. He is, in effect, the kid you realise you have forgotten the name of in your old school photograph. And so, although an unlikely lead character for a story, he is a perfect fit for the inimitable style of already hugely successful author, David Nicholls, in his latest book.
It is almost exactly ten years since One Day become an iconic work which has since been turned into a successful film adaptation starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess. Five years later Nicholls released Us and fans of his work have eagerly anticipated this latest book billed as the story of one life-changing summer for a sixteen year old boy – Charlie Lewis.
And it is life-changing – when he looks back. With the long summer holidays stretching in front of him like a road which never seems to end, which always has just one more turn, Charlie must face-up to what will be a gruelling wait for the exam results he knows will bring bad news all while sharing the house with a father he barely communicates with. His life has been rocked by the recent split of his parents and his father’s subsequent downward spiral into despair, his mates are working and he must while away the days until September comes. But, a chance meeting changes the course of the summer and Sweet Sorrow tells the story of two ‘star-crossed lovers’ in more ways than one.
Nicholls is an expert narrator, able to take the mundane moments of ordinary lives and turn them into beautiful chunks of prose which speak to us all. They don’t end with a schmaltzy all-too-predictable climax but instead meander peaceably to a satisfying close which, when the book is finished, will remain with the reader for some time. It is an art form and few do it better.