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mum_of_twins (Shropshire, England, UK)

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Amy
Amy
by Mary Hooper
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book, 25 Mar. 2007
This review is from: Amy (Paperback)
'Amy' is not, admittedly, the most exciting of titles. The eponymous star of this book finds herself friendless after a row with two of her best friends - and girls of a similar age will all be able to identify with that. She turns to chat rooms for company and meets Zed. Zed's eighteen, has a great job, is *really* fit and wants to meet Amy. She gives in, and travels the two and a half hour train journey to meet Zed. A walk around town, a coffee in a cafe and a picnic on the beach, and all seems wonderful - so why did Amy fall asleep on the beach for three hours? Was it really just the sun, or did something more sinister happen? With the help of her new friend Beaky, or Serena, Amy discovers what really happened that awful day.

On many levels, this is a super book. The language is very chatty and easy to follow which will appeal to those with a low reading age. The storyline is also good - gripping but again simple without complex sub plots. I also feel girls will be able to identify closely with Amy. She's a very "average" teenage girl - prettyish but not gorgeous, works hard at school but isn't very brainy, gets on well with parents but has her share of fallings-out. Unlike many novels narrated by the heroine, she is neither a deliquent nor a superbrain - just a girl.

The one thing that did really anny me about this book were the typing errors. Maybe it's just my copy (?) but on page 39 when Amy and her mum are talking about Serena and Amy claims Serena's nose is huge, her mum replies, "Beth, it's not at all!" That really puzzled me, as to the best of my knowledge there isn't even a Beth in the book! Elsewhere Zed is referred to as Zak. Makes it a tad unconvincing. That prevented the book getting 5 stars!


Skin
Skin
by A.M. Vrettos
Edition: Paperback

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This lovely, lovely book has all the makings of a modern day classic, 11 Jan. 2007
This review is from: Skin (Paperback)
Not ANOTHER book about anorexia, I groaned to myself when I read the blurb. Oh, well, it might encourage me to start my diet, I thought. And bought it. And I'm glad I did, but I'm going to be honest - part of me wishes I'd never read it, because it's humbled me. Let me explain.

Donald (Donnie) is the narrator of the book. The book opens with him finding his sister dead. He says she's starved herself to death - fat guys in the locker room have bigger boobs than her. But to be honest, all of that kind of gets forgotten - or at least pushed to the back of the mind - when we meet Donnie and his sister Karen.

I've never met Donnie, and yet I can see him. That's how real he becomes in Vrettos' book. He's the younger brother of Karen, who clearly mothers him. She makes him wear his earmuffs, drags him outside to safety when their parents start yelling, and makes sure he's doing his homework. Far from being annoyed by this, Donnie clearly adores Karen, although this adoration is tempered with "real" brother/sister moments - him sitting on her and pretending to drool on her face, her grabbing his leg as he practices his karate kick on the drive, bursting out laughing at jokes their parents just don't get. And these moments make you smile too, even as the horror engulfs you.

Poor old Donnie doesn't have it easy. His parents are strange. Mom is caring but ineffective, resorting to screeching and crying, while Dad clearly has "Izzoz" of his own. We find out, during the book that Donnie and Karen's father was brought up by his gran in a retirement home filled with old women. This is largely the crux of the problem - just as the father has no idea how to be a man, husband, father, he passes this on to Donnie. Donnie clearly desires his father's pride and love but his father seems to be completely immune to this. Added to this, Donnie's school life is pretty bad. He's never been popular - that's an understatement. Donnie describes his social position at school at "the bottom of the pile" and now, to make matters even worse, the two fellow losers he shared this position with ditch him. So Donnie trots back to the arms of big sis Karen. Karen has a best friend called Amanda who Donnie loves - she seems to give him the same sort of security Karen gives him, but he fancies her too (well, he is thirteen!)

Karen develops the eating disorder anorexia, and it's actually interesting re-reading the novel and looking more closely at what caused this. But it is so incredibly real - that's what touched me. Karen and Donnie and Amanda felt like real people. I can't reccommend this novel strongly enough. And I know I'll never forget it.


Bite: Blue
Bite: Blue
by Sue Mayfield
Edition: Paperback

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good story but badly written, 11 Mar. 2006
This review is from: Bite: Blue (Paperback)
Hmm, well, what to say about this book? Firstly, it deals with bullying, but, thank God, it's not one of those puke-inducing books where the bullies ask for money and beat their victim up. Blue shows how subtle and crafty 'real' bullying is - having your self-esteem and self-worth gradually chipped away. Anna Goldsmith's moved from 'down South' to Yorkshire, and she's adopted by Hayley Parkin. Hayley's an ultimate 'chav' - she's blonde, suntanned, wears Umbro and Nike sports gear etc etc. Anyway, like a lot of kids like her she wields a lot of power in school and at first she's happy to extend this to Anna. Then, Hayley turns against Anna. We don't know why, clearly, although jealousy is one possible reason. Hayley makes Anna's life unbearable. She makes Anna feel fat and ugly. The fact that Anna ISN'T fat or ugly is by the by - she feels both because she's constantly being told she is both by Hayley. This point is very important - I have known many beautiful girls made to feel like dog dirt because girls who they are worth ten of have amde them feel like that. I liked the fact that the book didn't follow the traditional idea of the bully being a big mean hulking thing beating up Year 7's for their lunch money. I also liked the fact that the "victim" was a pretty and talented girl. I hope it helps someone is the same position.
So why did I only give the book 3 stars? To be honest, the writing style was dreadful. The book jumps from Anna's mother's point of view, to Anna's best friend Melanie's point of view to Anna's herself, in her diary. (I've never been keen on books written in diary format, it takes the emphasis away from the writing, I think. But maybe that's just me.) The book would have been far better if it had been written solely in first person from Anna's point of view. The other thing I found really irritating was the constant overruse of people's names. Anna Goldsmith, Hayley Parkin, Melanie Blackwood must have been used a million times throughout the book, and it got on my nerves. Anna Goldsmith this, Anna Goldsmith that ... yes, we know the girl's name thanks!
Also I think 'Blue' was a daft title - it didn't have much to do with the subject! But, all in all a good book and I think it'll help someone. I hope it will, anyway. And if you're reading this because you are being bullied, please seek help. Don't ever think of doing what Anna did (try to take your life) there are too many people who love you, even if it doesn't feel like it.


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