Book Review – What July Knew

Title: What July Knew

Author: Emily Kock

Genre: General Fiction/ Mystery & thriller

Goodreads Rating: 4.48

My Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Source: ARC


Summer, 1995.

July Hooper knows eighteen things about her mother.

Like number thirteen: she loved dancing on the kitchen table. And number eight: she was covered in freckles.

And then there’s number two: she died after being hit by a car when July was small.

She keeps this list hidden in a drawer away from her father. Because they’re not allowed to talk about her mother. Ever.

But an anonymous note slipped into July’s bag on her tenth birthday is about to change everything she thinks she knows about her mum.

Determined to discover what really happened to her, July begins to investigate, cycling around the neighbourhood where her family used to live. There she meets someone who might finally have the answers.

July wants her family to stop lying to her, but will the truth be harder to face?

My Review:

I’d like to thank NetGalley and Harvill Secker for approving me for an ARC of this book. I had seen nothing but positive reviews of the book and was excited to read it. My fellow book friends, Bex and Dee joined me for a buddy read too, using Storygraph.

Where do I possible begin to review this amazing book? I read it in the space of 24 hours and barely came up for air, utterly invested in July Hooper and her journey. From the first chapter I had those nostalgic feelings, the games on the school playground, the hair styles even the music brought back fond memories of my childhood. I was also tasked with writing a biography of a family member during primary school so this part also brought fond memories of my nan back.

The story opens with July, our ten-year-old protagonist, discovering that her mother’s death, eight years ago, may not have happened as she first thought. This leads her to embark on a journey of discovery and she soon finds she has more questions than answers. This running mystery is brilliantly crafted with red herrings and a scattering of breadcrumbs, to keep the theories going. Having the story told predominantly from July’s POV was a refreshing concept, it brought home the emotion of the story and the naivety of that age.

It’s not long till we discover that July’s home life isn’t as lovely as others may have thought. She has a very strained relationship with her father Mick and her step sister Sylvie seems determined to get her into trouble. Knowing her father’s feelings about her mother and her death, July strives to conceal her investigation. This part of the story was heart breaking to read and seeing others in the community turn a blind eye made my blood boil.

I felt all the emotions whilst reading this. From nostalgia to anger, to happiness and eventually tears, I felt that rollercoaster of emotions play heavily on my heart. You can’t help but love July and want to egg her on, knowing that the results may lead to heartbreak. You see secrets revealed and an almighty showdown as well as changing relationships and a beautiful portrayal of grief and loss. It’s a story that creeps into your soul and steals a little part of it.


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