Tennis Lessons

The darkly funny, fiercely honest debut novel about a spirited young misfit and her rocky road to womanhood, stopping at each year along the way.

You’re strange and wrong. You’ve known it from the beginning.
This is the voice that rings in your ears. Because you never say the right thing. You’re a disappointment to everyone. You’re a far cry from beautiful – and your thoughts are ugly too.You seem bound to fail, bound to break.But you know what it is to laugh with your best friend, to feel the first tentative tingles of attraction, to take exquisite pleasure in the affront of your unruly body.You just need to find your place.

From dead pets and crashed cars to family traumas and misguided love affairs, Susannah Dickey’s revitalizing debut novel plunges us into the private world of one young woman as she navigates her rocky way to adulthood.

If you are suffering from a Fleabag-shaped hole in your life, I’ve found your next favourite read and If you binge-watched This May Destroy You then this will give you another topic to talk over and over with your friends after they’ve all read it. I’ve talked about it to everyone at my Book Group and will definitely be suggesting it as one of our next reads too I was SO excited to be emailed and invited on the tour for this book as I love supporting debut novelists and Tennis Lessons sounded right up my street.

I’m so very privileged to be on this fantastic debut novelist’s blog tour and can’t wait to tell you all about how much I fell for this original and striking novel, I feel totally bereft now that I’ve finished reading it and her unusual and resonant voice isn’t part of my daily life any more…

a black silhouette of a woman

I don’t think you have had to have the same experiences as the narrator to bond with this book, but by god – if you have there will be moments in this novel that you’ll read and read again saying ‘This is ME’  and I think that there will definitely be whole friendship groups all over the UK who will be wondering whether Susannah Dickey was sitting behind them eavesdropping on their conversations as so much of this book feels so REAL that at times you forget that this is an actual novel and feel like this is us being able to experience another person’s life right alongside them.

I’d like to thank Anne Cater for inviting me on the tour and recommend that you go back and see what all the other fab bloggers had to say about this unforgettable book. This was such a great read to remind me of why I love book blogging so much – when I get to read debut novels that I absolutely love and let other people discover them too…

Nell Frizzell has said: “ ‘Incredibly funny and honest . . . by turns charming and disgusting and I loved it’ and I couldn’t agree more. I had the nervousness you get when you’ve REALLY LOVED a book and you’re waiting for somebody else you know to read it too, so you can both talk about all the things that you felt were so perfectly drawn that you can’t quite believe that they’re not real people. Books about growing up and school and friendships and families are ten a penny – but this one really is different. It’s dark and light in exactly the right ratio to be truly satisfying and there will be moments where you’ll literally be shocked – but by the end the holistic effect is both honest and absorbing and I’m so jealous of everyone who hasn’t read it yet…

focus photography of woman facing trees

As you will have gathered, I could not put this book down. I was so caught up in our narrator’s life and I’m sure you will be too. It really felt like we’d been through all of this together. Her combination of  devastating candour and acerbic humour mean that everyone can identify with some part of her story– she’s a representation of all the things that we all struggle when we are growing up– how to be ourselves in a world that’s sometimes the most scary and unpredictable world to attempt to be honest in.

It’s hard to feel like that – that your life is just one series of catastrophes after another and everyone is too busy dealing with their own ‘stuff’ to be much bothered about yours. All friendship groups are awful and challenging and disorientating at times – but you’ll find that out for yourself as you immerse yourself in the depths of our unnamed narrator’s life and some of this is pretty bloody realistic  It’s hard to write originally about growing up as it’s such a universal experience , but I’m definitely not exaggerating when I tell you that Susannah Dickey has pulled it off and you will have to get a copy yourself to discover just how on the money she is about growing up and experiencing these moments that form us as human beings.

This is the kind of book you’ll be recommending to all your friends and you’ll be desperate to meet up with them afterwards and talk about of all the ways you’ve either been treated like this or met someone who’s been through exactly the same set of emotions even if the root causes were slightly different. Susannah Dickey is definitely a writer to watch – and if you have a look at the blog tour, you can see that I’m not alone in my opinion!

Buy yourself a copy here:

Tennis Lessons Blog Tour


‘A raw, fierce, shockingly honest coming-of-age story.’ LOUISE O’NEILL 

‘Incredibly funny and honest . . . by turns charming and disgusting and I loved it’ NELL FRIZZELL

‘Propulsive . . . brilliantly vivid . . . stays in the mind long after reading’ IRISH TIMES’

A beautifully written and psychologically incisive bildungsroman…the arrival of a young writer to watch’ OBSERVER

Writer On The Shelf

Susannah Dickey, author or Tennis Lessons

Susannah Dickey is from Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland. She is the author of two poetry pamphlets, I had some very slight concerns (2017) and genuine human values (2018). Her poetry has been published in Ambit, The White Review, Poetry Ireland Review and Magma, amongst others.

In 2018 she was shortlisted for The White Review short story prize, and in 2017 she was the winner of the inaugural Verve Poetry Festival competition. You can find the author on Twitter: @SusannahDickey

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