The Premise: (from NetGalley) Seventeen-year-old Indigo has had a tough start in life, having grown up in the care system after her dad killed her mum. Bailey, also seventeen, lives with his parents in Hackney and spends all his time playing guitar or tending to his luscious ginger afro.
When Indigo and Bailey meet at sixth form, serious sparks fly. But when Bailey becomes the target of a homeless man who seems to know more about Indigo than is normal, Bailey is forced to make a choice he should never have to make.
Thoughts: as with her YA Book Prize-winning debut, Orangeboy, Lawrence has crafted a story that is simultaneously topical, hard-hitting and emotive, with the character of Indigo and her traumatic backstory. Indigo’s a really compelling character, battling the rage that bubbles inside when she’s picked on at school (on a side note, are there seriously teenagers who bully someone about their murdered mum? Like, actually? I really want to believe that this is artistic licence). Her relationships with her foster mother and foster brother are sweet without being cloying, which is right for a character as prickly as Indigo. Her love of Debbie Harry and Blondie was another aspect of the character that really appealed to me, and it’s this which sparks the friendship between Indigo and Bailey.
Bailey’s sections of the story have plenty of intriguing material too. The contrast between Indigo’s life and Bailey’s affluent, supportive parents is stark and plays an important part in highlighting the various injustices Indigo has been exposed to. I didn’t care about Bailey quite as much, but his privilege in contrast to Indigo’s troubles probably makes this inevitable. The addition of the homeless man with a weird amount of knowledge about Indigo’s life adds impetus to the plot, and leads to satisfying revelations at the end.
In Conclusion: Patrice Lawrence gets it right once again, with another YA novel that explores race and class and their continuing impact on teenagers’ lives in 2017. Her writing is vibrant but uncompromising, making Indigo Donut a compelling read.