If you’re a reader of any sort, you’ve inescapably come across Coco Mellors in the past two years. Her debut novel, Cleopatra and Frankenstein released in the year 2022 and was a searing success; it was a National bestseller, a Goodreads Choice Awards finalist, and co-opted by Warner Brothers to be made into a series that same year.

Mellors’ second novel, the highly anticipated Blue Sisters, released on May 21. The book is centred on three sisters returning to the home that they grew up in on the death anniversary of their fourth - Nicky.

It’s almost as though the book is set on the proviso of the rupturing of their dynamic. The four, who used to be in perfect harmony around each other have lost their footing without Nicky and don’t quite know how to act in the face of grief. They are unbalanced.

Avery, the eldest, seems to have her life perfectly in place. She hates authority, but loves structure. It is as though she faced all the trials and tribulations of her life in her younger years and neatly stowed them away. A recovered heroin addict, she is now a successful lawyer with a house in London. Seven years into her marriage, she seemingly has her life more put together than most people ever dream.

Bonnie, the second child, is stoic but tender. She is shy and withdrawn and her existence resides in her physicality. She holds her ground, she holds the weight of the planet, she was born to be a professional boxer.

Nicky, the third is simply a kind soul. She was born to be a nurturer, a mother. She has a million friends, she is well loved. She suffers from endometriosis and bears her pain quietly. She dies.

Lucky, the youngest, is wolf-like. She dropped out of school to become a model, extremely successfully and has appeared in a million different magazines. She is beautiful, and sought after. She is the ultimate party girl, but the glamour her world offers is unable to swallow reality; she has her own addictions.

The beauty of the novel is that all four women are fully fleshed out. Whilst the novel centres around the aftermath of a death, and we see the sisters struggling to grieve or realise who they fully are, we see them as individuals.

The story of Avery, Bonnie, Nicky and Lucky is a healing balm to lost souls. The story will unearth tenderness and heartache from the depths of readers’ souls.

Mellors’ speciality is writing from shifting perspectives, she dives steadfast into each characters’ mind and voices out their fears, desires and pain. She does a brilliant job building the interior voices of her characters.

Though the four women are exceedingly flawed and we see them making terrible mistakes, we also see that for all of them their deepest wish is to love, and be loved.

The sisters themselves form a protective barrier against the world. There are moments when they are repulsed by each other, but their compassion for each other overcomes everything else. Their shared childhood makes it impossible for anyone to fill that void but each other.

The girls’ parents - are tumultuous. Their father was an alcoholic with violent outbursts when they were growing up, and their mother fulfilled her duty by making sure they were well-fed and with a roof over their head, but they never felt shielded. The sisters has only each other to love, and whilst they filled each other up with compassion and freedom, they were perhaps also too young to be hurt.

The book is messy and volatile in a way that only angry women full of rage are. More than anything else, the book sets itself apart in how it explores addiction, with tendrils of pain leaping off of every page.

It isn’t easy to write about addiction. Many of us grow up with the socialised notion that it’s a dirty thing and that all addicts are terrible, selfish people. Addiction, however, is an affliction. It is someone deeply unwell, crying out loud to be saved or loved. Days are blurry, they melt into

one another, we cannot remember how real our lives are, when we are addicted to a something, and how much has truly occurred.

It is a state of delirium that a person may choose because they have too much undealt emotion. It is the fastest mode to seek escape, to run away from oneself. It takes tremendous amounts of strength and self awareness to step away from the cycles of addiction.

Lucky’s character is the most fierce but also the softest. She flits from party to party, from substance to substance trying to evade her pain, choosing to annihilate herself. She is too afraid to be brave, but we see her yearning to try.

Mellors actually does an incredible job of making the pain we often skip past in our daily lives feel seen. We see characters who have accumulated layers of grief and trauma and are unable to unravel it all, we see the spirals of addiction and how deep-rooted it often is in a family.

We also see endometriosis. Nicky, the third sister suffers from endometriosis which has wreaked havoc in her life since she ever got her first period. Even in the world outside the book, endometriosis affects one in ten women on their period causing extreme pain.

The torment makes it extremely hard to function, making the tasks we are supposed to perform in our daily lives almost impossible. The disorder in itself is extremely painful, misunderstood, and can take years to diagnose. Nicky’s own sisters are unable to comprehend the gravity of the agony she experiences and choose to focus on the fact that the pain will pass instead of its inevitability.

Nicky is asked to choose between living a life without birthing a child by a hysterectomy or using painkillers to help give her relief. It is this choice that ultimately kills her.

Through the book, Mellors asks us to explore invisible pain. It leaves food for thought: the word ‘sonder’ means the realisation that every passerby has a life as vivid and complex as your own. Perhaps the only way to deal with this is empathy.

While the strain of grief and addiction is always dire, what reeks off the page is simply this desire present in every human in the world. A desire to be seen, heard, loved and feel safe.

It takes a brilliant author to weave a compelling story about love and addiction and Mellors succeeds. We see through the characters’ flaws, we dislike them for it, but somewhere down the line, we are rooting for them. Mellors does an excellent job in making her second novel a sparkling, cinematic experience. We feel like we are living every moment with the characters instead of perhaps simply observing them from a distance.

In some way, the book is simply about gentleness in the face of oppression by grief. It’s simply a love story.