Review: Respect by Mandasue Heller (5/5)

Saturday, 9 August 2014
Mandasue Heller's new heroine is a fifteen-year-old Manchester girl who is both brave and determined to do the right thing - but that may not be enough to save her from a lethal cocktail of violence. From the author praised by Martina Cole and Jeffery Deaver.

Chantelle has everything going against her. She's a good student who only wants to pass her exams and find a way out of the sink estate in Manchester where she grew up. But now her feckless mother has taken off for Spain with her latest boyfriend and she's single-handedly raising her tearaway nine-year-old brother Leon. She thinks her worst problem is the debt collectors at the door. But Leon has made some new friends: teenage gang members who have given him a mobile phone, a knife - and some drugs to hide in her flat.

A part-time job seems to be the answer to Chantelle's prayers. But the violence is about to come home to her - with a vengeance. And the only person who's offering any help seems to be just as bad as the people she's trying to escape from . . .


Mandasue's novels have always been a bit hit and miss for me. Some have been absolutely amazing yet others were just good. But then I suppose that's the case with most authors books. This time the book was fantastic and I loved it. Where I think Mandasue excels over some of her peers is in creating believable characters and putting them in awful yet realistic circumstances allowing the reader to really root for the main character and want them to succeed. Her stories are all the more hard hitting and believable because she writes about things we read about in the news daily.

Our main character here is Chantelle and she is a really likeable character from the off who has been dealt a very bad hand. Her mother Mary is absolutely despicable, a poster woman for why certain women should be banned from having children if ever there was one. Abandoning her children, stealing from them, treating them like dirt. There is no end to her talents and I absolutely despised her. Chantelle is forced to look after her brother Leon when Mary leaves the country and has to look for work to earn money. She has also caught the eye of local reformed bad boy Anton, however she is pretty disinterested at first. Meanwhile Leon falls in with a local gang who start giving him things to look after. Things obviously being illegal items. 

Without wanting to go into the plot too much this book was very gripping and hard to put down. For the most part it doesn't move at a particularly fast pace but instead builds up slowly to a thrilling and action packed finale. You just know something bad is coming and can't read quick enough to discover just what is going to happen. Mandasue in her most recent novels has really shown us what she's capable of and she's definitely one of the best authors writing in this genre today. As said a particular favourite of mine for her realistic and gritty stories I can't wait for her next release in January 2015.

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