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If I Knew You Were Going to be This Beautiful, I Never Would Have Let You Go by Judy Chicurel

If I Knew You Were Going to be This Beautiful, I Never Would Have Let You Go

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Sarah Broadhurst's view...

One of our Books of the Year 2014.

1972 and the teenagers of Long Island spend their time drinking, smoking and taking drugs. The girls all experiment with sex, get pregnant, have abortions or adoptions, such is life. The boys are all older men, most suffering from the effects of military service in Vietnam. These are bleak times. It is small-town community life, astutely described; a working class Long Island not often portrayed.

November 2014 Debut of the Month.

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Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.

  • Catherine Jenkins - 'A book of searing impressions, Chicurel's narrative will stay with the reader beyond its conclusion.' Read full review >
  • Phylippa Smithson - 'A book full of friendship, emotional conflict, young love, hope and loss, hopelessness and growth.  Loved it.' Read full review >
  • Cath Humphris - 'It took me a few pages to get into it, but by the time I'd finished the second chapter I was hooked.  This is a lovely coming-of-age story, thought provoking and evocative.' Read full review >
  • Angela Rhodes - 'In the beautifully written debut  novel, written by Judy Chirurel, the topics are far and wide, touching ever so lightly, on racism, teenage pregnancy, to name a few.' Read full review >
  • Rebecca Whymark - 'Well written but not my cup of tea.' Read full review >
  • Emma Smith - 'It is a haunting book that gets right in the middle of the harsh reality of the time...I'll be thinking about this one for a while.' Read full review >
  • Victoria Whish - 'It’s not an easy, light read but it’s well written and will make you think about the specifics of these characters and setting and the wider world today.' Read full review >
  • Megan Williams - 'A touching and beautiful novel with a poignancy that lingers with the reader long after you’ve put the book down.' Read full review >
  • Sarah Harper - 'A truly accomplished debut and a thoroughly absorbing read, this book will stay with you long after you've read the last page.' Read full review >
  • Suzanne Beney - 'The synopsis of this book really doesn’t do it justice, and in fact I felt slightly mislead...However, my expectations were surpassed and I found myself drawn into 1970’s America.' Read full review >
  • Neil Beattie - 'I will be honest I didn't think I was going to enjoy this book, how wrong I was. I loved it, and didn't want it to end.' Read full review >
  • Katie Hoare - 'This beautifully written and well observed debut novel is narrated by Katie, who was a young woman in the summer 1972, telling her story.' Read full review >
  • Josie Barton - 'There is no doubt that the author is writing with authority, and is entirely comfortable recounting a story which has a realistic historical feel to it and which works as a social commentary...'  Read full review >
  • Evelyn Love-Gajardo - 'It's beautifully written and the author has a way of switching from colloquial to lyrical language within a couple of sentences. So definitely one to recommend...' Read full review >
  • Lynne Morgan - 'Warning - this book is addictive – you will not want it to end!...This is an amazing first novel, a very human story, sensitively written and with a clear insight into humanity.' Read full review >
  • Pam Kennedy - 'The most interesting bit of this book was the title, I did not like this book at all.' Read full review >
  • Nicola Kingswell - 'Each chapter could almost be a short story in its own right, which is a nice way to write and to read, but there is an overall thread weaving though the book.' Read full review >
  • Clare Turner - 'I loved this book! It is beautifully written, full of characters, emotions and episodes that remain with you. It is also slightly non-standard, in that it is a series of stand-alone short stories.' Read full review >
  • Genevieve McAllister - 'It wasn’t the novel I thought it was going to be – no rose-tinted glasses here – but it was gritty and challenging and a worthwhile read because of it.' Read full review >
  • Glenda Worth - 'A poignant novel about the youngsters in 1970's Long Island growing up in a jaded seaside resort.' Read full review >


If I Knew You Were Going to be This Beautiful, I Never Would Have Let You Go by Judy Chicurel

Judy Chicurel's exquisitely written debut evokes the atmosphere of a 1970s summer in a close-knit working class community on Long Island. Katie and her young friends face a changing world, with prospects very different from those presented to their parents. The Vietnam War seems pointless to many but has devastated lives that remain broken even after the fighting is over. As, with bittersweet humour, the characters' experiences unfold, daily events mirror bigger issues: an illegal abortion is plotted; the town is sinking into an economic abyss forcing Katie's friends to leave in search of more promising horizons; drugs claim the lives of those often too high to recognise the danger until it is too late; and Katie dreams of a boy back from Nam who's still fighting a battle she doesn't understand.


Chicurel [is] a gifted and versatile writer, and always draws you in * Sunday Express * Beautifully evocative * Observer * 'This love story set in 70s Long Island is guaranteed to have you gripped' * NOW * 'A thought-provoking debut novel' * CLOSER * This book will haunt you long after you've finished * * Beautiful and heart-breaking at once. A mesmerising, compulsive combination -- Adele Parks Beautifully written prose... Rarely do books evoke so viscerally a place, so tangibly a time and such a broad sweep of big themes * Hannah Beckerman * The story hooked me in so I felt the characters
pain and hope

* WOMAN & HOME * Chicurel's novel has its dark moments, but the overriding sentiment is one of acceptance, resilience and the enduring power of friendship. A coming-of-age-tale with a haunting quality 4* * The Lady * Despite the dark sides, If I Knew is gorgeous and thoughtful; a compelling, wonderful look at a particular point in time * EMERALD STREET * 'Tender and brave storytelling' * GRAZIA * Raw, nostalgic, utterly compelling and very, very cool... A mind-blowingly impressive debut -- Eva Rice 'A really wonderful book that will capture your heart and occupy your thoughts' * SUNDAY MIRROR *

About the Author

Judy Chicurel grew up in Long Beach, Long Island. Her work has appeared in national, regional and international publications including the New York Times, Granta, and Newsday. Her plays have been produced and performed in Manhattan and India. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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Book Info

Publication date

30th October 2014


Judy Chicurel

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Tinder Press an imprint of Headline Publishing Group


336 pages


Literary Fiction
Debuts of the Month
Family Drama
Reading Groups
Relationship Stories
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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