He Is Mine and I Have No Other
by Rebecca O’Connor
‘I was frightened of him in a way – of his grief, his loneliness – for he looked like the loneliest person on earth just then . . . the type of boy who wondered about things, as I did, who broke his heart wondering about things . . .’
In 1990s-small-town Ireland, amid the sweaty school discos and first fumblings of adolescence, fifteen-year-old Lani Devine falls in love with Leon Brady, whose mother is buried in the cemetery next to Lani’s house.
Lani is haunted by the stories of thirty-five orphaned girls, buried in an unmarked grave near Leon’s mother. As the love story unfolds, and then unravels, it becomes clear that Leon too is haunted – by a brutal family tragedy that has left scars much more than skin-deep.
He Is Mine and I Have No Other is a captivating, eerie and atmospheric novel about the obsessive power of first love, about the claustrophobia a tight-knit family and community can cause, and about buried secrets and the havoc they wreak.
I won this book on a Twitter competition, so thanks to Peters Fraser and Dunlop for choosing my retweet!
“He is Mine and I Have No Other” reads like Young Adult fiction, but it doesn’t seem to be categorised that way which is a little confusing to me. The cover also doesn’t seem to truly reflect the content so don’t be put off by that if you fancy giving it a read.
It’s the 1990s in Ireland. Lani Devine is a fifteen-year-old girl with fifteen-year-old girl problems; she argues with her parents, falls out with her best friend and falls in love for the first time. Leon Brady’s mother is buried in the cemetery next to Lani’s house which means she frequently sees him around. When she approaches him at a school disco, they fall for each other and, after spending the night kissing, they build a relationship through notes passed at school.
This is an angsty teenage love story. While not something I usually enjoy, the characters still felt authentic; I’m sure everyone can relate to having arguments with their parents and feeling confused about their feelings.
“‘What do you think, Lani?’
Shut your fat mouth, is what I wanted to say.
‘Don’t know. I’d say a girl'”
Lani isn’t likeable, but are any teenagers really that likeable? Leon is mysterious and leaves you wondering what he’ll do next. It’s cute and certainly makes for an easy read.
Alongside the main story, every so often there is a short chapter written from the perspective of one of many orphans buried in a mass grave. This is one thing I just didn’t get. I’m not really sure why these chapters were included and while I appreciate the connection to the plot, they didn’t add anything to the story for me at all.
Overall rating: A quick glimpse into the mind of a teenager falling in love. It’s cute but I feel that this is more suited to a YA audience. Good, but not something I’m going to be raving about – 3 stars!