Lena Gorelik is an accomplished writer of literary fiction and with her Young Adult debut, More Black than Purple, she proves herself a major talent on the YA literary scene. This is an outstanding coming-of-age novel about friendship and first love, set in contemporary Berlin but perfectly pitched to travel well in English translation.
Her brightly-coloured odd socks aside, seventeen-year-old Alex would rather wear black than purple. She seeks refuge from her dysfunctional home life in her close-knit friendship with classmates Paul and Ratte. The trio are outsiders who form their own alternative family unit, until the balance of their friendship is disturbed by the arrival of a cool new assistant teacher, nicknamed ‘Johnny’. The tensions between the friends explode on a school trip to Auschwitz when Alex kisses Johnny in public. The kiss is caught on camera, provoking a storm of indignation on social media and huge repercussions for the three friends and their teacher.
Gorelik’s brilliant writing – allusive and full of imagery – really gets under the skin. More Black than Purple is a high quality novel with crossover appeal for adult readers and will resonate with fans of Louise O’Neill.