Dangerous to know by Katy Moran
Walker Books, 2011. ISBN 978-1-4063-1729-9.
(Age 14+) Recommended. When Jack sees Bethany for the first time there is an immediate connection and both believe that it is true love. But Jack's older brother, Herod, has had an issue with drugs and has been hospitalised and Jack comes from a broken home, so Bethany's mother is certain that Jack is a bad influence. She is determined to separate them, especially when she discovers that they are sneaking around to see each other and going off to music festivals. Bethany's father is terminally ill with cancer and she is torn about her relationship with Jack and keeping the peace at home. When Jack's brother disappears from the Peace Centre where he has been staying, and his very rich father arrives from the States to take over, things begin to get very difficult for Jack.
The front cover states: 'You can't choose who you fall in love with', and Moran explores the theme of first love and whether it can be lasting in an engrossing way. Jack, the narrator of the story, is a very likeable character and he tells his story in a very vivid manner, bringing to life the personalities of his friends, their strengths and weaknesses, fears and dreams. His family relationships, the estrangement from his father, separation from his older twin brothers, and the difficulties of living in a broken family are also fully realised.
The theme of drug taking and its consequences is also handled in a non-didactic, sympathetic way. Moran clearly describes the effects that drugs can have on certain individuals and the devastating consequences that can have on a family. However this is all tied in with the main theme of Bethany and Jack's growing relationship and the difficulties that the young couple face trying to keep their love alive.
When I read in Katy Moran's biography that she 'has worked the graveyard shift at many festivals', I realised why the setting of music festivals felt so authentic. This added immensely to the appeal of the book.
This is an easy to read book, which I read in one setting and the first and only one true love theme is sure to appeal to teens. However the author has given them much more than romance to think about and it has a perfectly wonderful ending.
Editor's note: This review first appeared in Fiction Focus.