Making Turquoise is a modern day Romeo and Juliet. This book is gritty, painful, and also hopeful. It leaves the reader feeling a bit of sorrow but also faith that life will get better.
This book is mainly about Hayley and Liam. They grow up as friends and fall in love, but their relationship faces many hardships, such as classism, rivalry, and loss. But, when it seems like they couldn’t get further from each other, Hayley’s brother, Callum, is murdered. The two prime suspects are Aiden, Liam’s brother, and Liam himself. At every turn they are being pulled away from each other but they always end up gravitating back together. This is the ultimate story of will they or won’t they?
What I like about this novel is that we get a full back story to Hayley and Liam, we watch them grow up together and make the life choices we all go through. They make mistakes and choices that help define who they are. The timeline is clear and we get to see where each character is at point A and then at point B, we get a full snapshot of their evolution. These characters could easily be you or your neighbor.
This novel is based in Scotland, which is a new setting for me. Making Turquoise taught me a few key cultural differences between Scotland and the United States. Football is like a religion over there. In fact, it causes a huge divide between Hayley and Liam’s families. Liam’s family are Celtic fans and Hayley‘s family are Rangers fans. I understand sports rivalry but it is not even close to the same where I am from. The football fever in Scotland is so ingrained in Scottish culture that it causes fights in the streets. This was a very intense concept for me and I am glad that I was able to learn about it.
I was also blown away by the fact that you can get arrested in Scotland for just carrying a knife. It is like an actual offense to carry a knife over there. I walk around with pocket knives any time I have to walk somewhere in the dark, just as a precaution. I know in my mind that obviously different countries have different rules, but it’s just crazy to think of how something nonchalant over here is a criminal activity over there.
Needless to say I am a huge fan of reading different cultural perspectives.
This book also jumps right to the action. You are there with Hayley and Liam from the very beginning and it doesn’t get dull in the middle. McFall knows exactly what to include in a love story, and she also knows how to create tension. From page one this book is interesting.
Also Making Turquoise asks a lot of questions about what it’s like to be a teenager in love. We get a bit of the sweetheart angle, we cover acceptance, and the process of changing. Liam and Hayley have a lot to overcome together and separately. It feels like an authentic teenage experience to me, I am still with my high school sweetheart and I can tell you that it has come with its challenges. Luckily, not as severe as Hayley and Liam’s relationship, but it does capture that essence that I went through as a teen.
I really enjoy how this novel tackles big topics such as classism, sibling relationships, and drug use. (I will add in a warning right here that this novel gets heavy. It delves deep into various types of abuse and even death. This is not a light read, it will make you hurt) Liam and Hayley are in two different class brackets and their families make that very clear. I would say Hayley is more middle class and Liam is lower class, and it becomes a point of contention between the lovers. They realize that their families will never accept their relationship because of they key differences in family dynamic. Also, the theme of brotherhood is so powerful in this book. Hayley’s twin brother Callum is immensely protective of her from day one. And, Liam’s brother, Aiden, is much the same as but also different from Callum. Aiden is fierce and mean-spirited, living under a façade of being protective of Liam. I enjoyed watching McFall draw this brotherly contrast. There is a perfect comparison of true brotherly love and false brotherly love.
I will admit some of it was too real. It was hard to read in places because the situations are believable. There’s this piece where Liam walks in on Aiden shooting up drugs and the quote goes like this:
“I went. I was too frightened to stay in the room, but I sat in the hallway, just outside his door, spilt cola soaking up in to my jeans, and I listened. As long as I could hear him breathing, I knew he wasn’t dead.
I was more scared of my brother than I’d ever been in my life. Because the man in his room was a stranger and I wished I’d never met him. I wished I was on the walk with Hayley, pretending I was Orange, pretending I was blue.”
For me, this part really hurt. I have seen people change from drug abuse and it just felt so real.
I did get irritated in a few parts because Hayley is supposed to be smart but she just does dumb stuff. She would do something I thought was stupid like walking through the wrong part of town and I’d have to stop reading to take a breather. I just don’t understand how a smart character would suddenly make really dumb mistakes. While I was irritated with this, it did do a good job of illustrating that Hayley is more book smart and her brother is more street smart. So I was able to forgive the little irritation.
I give Making Turquoise a 4/5 stars and I will definitely be recommending it to my friends. I want to send a huge thank you to Claire McFall for reaching out to me on Twitter, this book was a joy to read.
I would also like to point out that all of the proceeds from Making Turquoise will be donated to food banks during the coronavirus crisis, so your purchase will be going to a great cause.