Lobsters is the first novel by Lucy Ivison and Tom Ellen. The pair explore an awkward, but sweet summer through the dual perspectives of Hannah and Sam who are both determined to lose their virginity.
Lobsters was shortlisted for the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition 2014 and for the YA Book Prize in 2015. Michelle and I are also super excited that Lucy and Tom have a new book, Never Evers, due out in January 2016.
This is part 2 – read part 1 on Michelle’s blog.
M: I definitely agree, Jasmine. Dual narrative worked so well in Lobsters. Sam and Hannah’s voices both felt so unique, and not just in a typical girl vs boy way. But, I loved how they complemented each other and worked together well to tell the story. I also appreciated how the whole novel wasn’t just about Sam and Hannah reflecting on the same situations from different perspectives.
While there was plenty of that, it wasn’t overdone and I felt like they still both had their own stories to tell. You’re right, Sam and Hannah’s stories could definitely have been told on their own but also worked harmoniously together. I felt immediately invested in Sam and Hannah’s story. They were so easy to relate to, as were all their friends. I felt like I knew these people and that’s not an easy feeling for writers to create.
J: It was interesting to hear about the method behind how Lobsters was written as the conversations were not only so joyously easy to read, but felt completely real. Lucy wrote Hannah’s parts and Tom wrote Sam’s for the first draft, and then they both came together to read the dialogue aloud to make sure that it sounded ok. Often dialogue can feel as if its only purpose is to fast-track the storyline but for me, the dialogue is what made Lobsters so special. I enjoy reading books that have likeable and believable characters and I love how well that’s portrayed in this book.
I also love that the secondary characters feel rounded, especially Hannah’s nan who is so fabulous; one of my favourite character descriptions ever is of her nan’s outfit because from those two sentences you know EXACTLY who she is, ‘We were only going to Westfield but she was dressed in lemon-yellow trousers and matching lemon-yellow sandals and a T-shirt with an enormous sequinned parrot sitting in a palm tree. She wears pretty much every item of jewellery she owns every day.’
M: You’re so right – I was instantly hooked on all the characters (even Hannah’s nan) and so invested in their story because of the authenticity of the writing. It’s so interesting to hear that’s how the dialogue was written. It definitely had an impact on the final product. I felt the writing had a really beautiful poignancy to it, without distracting from the story or the characters.
I really liked the way female friendships were portrayed in Lobsters. I felt there was a very honest, but not judgemental, exploration of how complex and fraught those relationships can be in teenage years. It wasn’t even the big things that happened between Hannah and her friends which got to me, but the more nuanced aspects of friendship groups.
M: Spanning a sweet, clumsy summer, it’s almost impossible not to be charmed by Hannah and Sam’s awkwardness in Lobsters. I’m sure we’ve all been there! This book is the reason I love contemporaries.
J: Lobsters is a funny and heartwarming story that is bound to make you smile. You know when books make you feel all happy inside, this is one of those! I’d recommend this to anyone who loved Trouble by Non Pratt as I think they feel quite similar, not in terms of story but in character likeability. I really felt for these characters and was really invested in their storylines – big love to Lucy and Tom for writing a book this fabulous!
More Michelle and Jasmine read: The A to Z of You and Me