Review: First Day of My Life by Lisa Williamson

Review: First Day of My Life by Lisa Williamson

I’d like to start this review by saying a huge thank you to David Fickling Books, who sent me an advanced copy of First Day of My Life in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I read First Day of My Life back in May but, with the release date being pushed back due to everything that’s going on in the world, I decided to wait to review it closer to release day. That is now TOMORROW, which is extremely exciting! But also means I can hardly remember anything I was planning on saying about this book, so it’s already due a reread.

First Day of My Life follows two best friends, Frankie and Jojo, as they discover truths about each other (and themselves) that puts their friendship to the test.

Frankie hasn’t seen Jojo all summer, so she’s looking forward to meeting up with her friend to collect their GCSE results on Results Day. However, when she gets to the school Jojo is nowhere to be found. That might be Frankie’s fault, though – she’s late because the route she normally takes is closed because of a police investigation into a kidnapping.

It isn’t until later that day, when she finally gets hold of Jojo on the phone, that Frankie makes a startling discovery. Hearing a baby crying in the background, Frankie starts to wonder whether Jojo might be responsible for the kidnapping. But why would Frankie’s goody-two-shoes best friend decide to kidnap a baby, and where can she have gone?

Luckily Frankie has Find My Friend on her phone, so she manages to track Jojo down to a hotel in Swindon. Unfortunately, the only person Frankie knows who drives is her ex-boyfriend, Ram. Driving across country in a search for the truth, will they be able to put the awkwardness behind them to save Jojo from whatever trouble she might be in?

This novel is a love letter to the tumultuous nature of teen friendships. Lisa Williamson perfectly encapsulates the extreme emotions found in platonic relationships (particularly those between teen girls). The friendship between Frankie and Jojo is almost toxic at times, but the depth of their feelings for each other means that they’re able to work through anything given enough time.

Frankie is very self-absorbed, and makes everything about her throughout which is frustrating. However, it did remind me a lot of my teen days, and I saw a lot of myself in the way that Frankie reacted to the situation that she found herself in! Even though it is quite annoying, it’s realistic.

Meanwhile Jojo makes herself the centre of attention by running away, but she does it for a very important reason, and this story shows that sometimes extremely out of character behaviour is the only choice you have.

My favourite character out of the three perspectives was probably Ram. He’s such a cinnamon roll. I would have liked it if more of the story had focused on him as I thought his character had a lot more potential, but I also appreciated the fact that this is a YA contemporary which is much more focused on the importance of friendship over romantic relationships.

This has lots of different aspects that I love – multiple perspectives, a non-chronological timeline, a cross-country road trip – and the main bulk of the action plays out in Swindon, which is actually where I live. It was a lot of fun to speculate over whether Lisa Williamson had been to Swindon to research the setting before basing her story here, and discussing which clubs, takeaways and hotels the characters could be visiting. We have much more than just a Magic Roundabout here, I promise!

This was easily a five star read for me. I’m a bit sad about the fact that the publication date got pushed back to 2021 because I was convinced that this was going to be appearing on the YA Book Prize shortlist this year. I’ll just have to wait until next year and keep my fingers crossed that this novel gets the recognition that it deserves.

This is the third of Lisa Williamson’s YA novels that I’ve read (I only have All About Mia to get to!) and her books have always been four or five star reads for me, so if you haven’t read any of her other stories I highly recommend picking them up. She’s a shining star in the UKYA scene.

Once again, huge thanks to David Fickling Books for sending me an advanced copy of this one. I will cherish it forever!