The International Writers Magazine: Review

Innocent by Anne Cassidy
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
ISBN: 034088200X
A Jo Green review

"Innocent" takes us into the world of Charlie and Brad Simon, a brother and sister doomed, it would appear, when Brad finds himself in the frame for murder. Charlie sets out to discover what it is that her brother is hiding her from, only to learn that his secret is much, much worse than just being in the frame for the accidental death of a middle-aged lorry drive

Charlie and Brad have grown up with their strong, caring father, Lee. Brad has been in frequent contact with the police for various small crimes; theft, possession of cannabis, an assault. This murder doesn’t seem to ring true with Brad’s character though. Charlie doesn’t believe it and nor does Tony Haskins, the CID police office well known to Brad. This part of the book creates the suspense that will keep the reader interested and longing to know more.

Charlie’s damaging relationship with Brad’s closest friend, Denny Scott, is interwoven into the text and creates two sides to the title of the book; the innocence of her brother and the sole innocence of herself at 16. Now we have the classic ingredient of ‘chick-lit;’ the love interest! Denny is a, stereotypical, some might say, 19 year old, ‘only after one thing.’ Denny makes Charlie believe that he is helping her move into the adult world. She knows that, although on the inside she is experiencing thoroughly new feelings, underneath it all, he doesn’t really give a care in the world about their secret relationship.

Charlie and Brad’s mother is then brought into the picture and we learn of her deceit and the hurt she caused when she left their father, for their uncle. One day, 6 years prior to the books present day, Brad sees his mother, back in their town with her new family. He takes Charlie to see her but, with a strong influence from Charlie, they soon make a promise to one another that they’re not going to forgive and forget.

When Brad is taken in by the police Lee knows that he now needs their mother’s help. With this we also discover, along with Charlie, that Brad has actually been in contact with their mother since. As the story unfolds, we can see Cassidy’s attempt at showing us how lies upon lies, and distant emotional scars, end up producing even more struggles within the strong family bond. We find that the book soon becomes more than just a story for young teenage girls; there are lessons in her words for everyone to learn from.
Slowly but surely the secret of what really happened on the night of the terrible accident begins to unravel. Charlie and her best friend, Emily, uncover more than they both bargain for, but their investigation ultimately provides Brad with the opportunity he needs to be honest.

Anne Cassidy describes on her website that the reason she wrote "Innocent" was because she, "wanted to look at how a terrible event can cause havoc in a family. Lies and guilt and half truths just make everything worse." Although the story is based on this "terrible event", for me, her book emphasizes how important it is to remember that our family will be there for us, no matter what we do. If we do remember that, then honesty can soon prevail.
© Jo Green Oct 2006

Jo is a Creative Writing student at the University of Portsmouth
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