Book Review: If I Knew You Were Going To Be This Beautiful, I Never Would Have Let You Go by Judy Chicurel

No matter how beautiful some dreams are, there comes a time when we must let them go.

If I knew you were going to be this beautiful i never would have let you go by judy chicurel

  It is the summer of 1972, and Katie has just turned eighteen. Katie and her town, Elephant Beach, are both on the verge: Katie of adulthood, and Elephant Beach of gentrification. But not yet: Elephant Beach is still gritty, working-class, close-knit. And Katie spends her time smoking and drinking with her friends, dreaming about a boy just back from Vietnam who’s still fighting a battle Katie can’t understand. 

In this poignant, evocative debut collection, Judy Chicurel creates a haunting, vivid world, where conflicts between mothers and daughters, men and women, soldiers and civilians and haves and have-nots reverberate to our own time. She captures not only a time and place, but the universal experience of being poised between the past and the future.


Thank you to Tinder Press for providing me with a review copy via NetGalley.

I must say, this book is quite unlike anything I’ve ever read before. And I’m still not entirely sure if that’s in a good way or not. It some ways, I think is was great – verging on brilliant. In others, well, it was a bit complex and even bland at times.

As an actual plot line, the story can be a little hazy. It’s more simply about that summer, rather than about a particularly instance or event. There’s no ‘Katie loves Luke, but XYZ happens, then she overcomes it and they get together or they don’t’. Nothing was that prominent.

It’s sort of a general view of life at that time. Katie is living in the transition period from children to adults. Most people spend their time heavily drinking, smoking and doing drugs. They’re having sex for the first time, often resulting in pregnancies and the drama that ensues. Some get married, some have abortions. All the while, the war is happening in the background. Come the end of summer, pretty much all their lives have changed.

The book conveys the general feelings of confusion and angst at that time in life, and for this is an excellent coming-of-age sory. The setting of 1972 is created perfectly, and the book definitely transported you back to that time.

I guess overall, though there were lots of little things happening, it sometimes almost felt like nothing was really happening at all. There were lots of tangents and side stories, and these then culminated to make the overall novel.

I’m honestly struggling to describe how I feel about it. The writing is generally excellent, though at times felt overly drawn out. The setting was created perfectly, and the characters were easy to engage with. I was both eager to find out what was happening at times, and just wanted to glaze through parts at others.

I think as a whole, I would say it probably felt a little anti-climactic. I think it’s going to be a bit of a love it or hate it book for most, or there may be a few like me that just don’t know what the hell to make of it! Despite, I recommend you read it, as I think it’s one worth discovering for yourself.

Rating: star-ratingstar-ratingstar-rating

Release date: 30 October 2014
Publisher: Tinder Press
Amazon UK
Amazon US

3 thoughts on “Book Review: If I Knew You Were Going To Be This Beautiful, I Never Would Have Let You Go by Judy Chicurel

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