Right in the foreword to Lipgloss, Liam Gammalliere tells us of his philosophy studies at the University of London, and proceeds to list a series of hypothetical questions which could serve as a thesis for the character study to come. Because that is ultimately what lies at the heart of Lipgloss: character. Liam’s passion for philosophy seems matched only by his intimate awareness and artistic sensibilities for the psychological, as shown through this small ensemble of compelling, captivating, endearing, and tragic characters.

The story follows a seventeen-year-old girl attempting to make sense of the adult world awaiting her. Her navigations of her East London life are defined in large part by both her domineering and possessive boyfriend, and her best friend, who serves to demonstrate to our protagonist what fundamental psychological component she may require to reach self-fulfilment and happiness: belief in herself, and the capacity to exist without total reliance on a significant other.

To simply call Lipgloss a coming-of-age tale would be reductive. The plights, challenges, and dilemmas faced by our protagonist have the potential to resonate with all readers – yes, like the very best coming-of-age tales – and yet there’s something else to Liam’s novel that elevates it above such pigeonholing. Perhaps it’s the psychological depths into which we are taken, or maybe it’s the tired tropes so expertly dodged throughout. Whatever it is, there is something in this first-person narrative that feels fresh, unpredictable, and exquisitely authentic. You won’t believe it’s a man to have written this fictional seventeen-year-old girl’s thoughts!

As well as all this, Liam’s commentaries on the social media phenomenon and its effect on the youth of today, along with difficult yet necessary explorations of domestic abuse and manipulation, Lipgloss proves to be a novel heavy in themes and subject matter, and a thorough exploration of the mind.

You’ll be entertained, heartbroken, and totally hooked on the story to come. Read Lipgloss, now.

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