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on 25 April 2004
I was brought the Opposite of Chocolate by my mother for my birthday-i waswary, cos she often buys me really depressing books. However, i wasplesently surprised.
The Opposite of Chocolate follows Sapphire. She is14, and becomes pregnant. Naturally, she is shell-shocked, as is herfamily. Her mother wants her to have an abortion, her sister wants her tosell the baby, and her father wants her to keep the child. But she justwants to do what she wants.
This is a thrilling book, and i would really recomend reading it. It istold terrifically well, and i personally loved it.
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on 16 May 2005
Bertagna's clever use of perspective enables a male reader to empathise with a young girl in a situation he can never experience - teenage pregnancy. Her relationship with Gil, a young social outcast, leads her into a danger which has disasterous consequences.
The amazing thing about this book was that it made me rethink one of my fundamental beliefs, the immorality of abortion. It is this combination of moral discussion and gripping storytelling that make this book such a success.
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on 10 August 2004
I loved this book because it really outlines the way people think teenagers are too young to make their own choices. When Sapphire falls pregnant she feels trapped and searches for ways to escape her troubles by forming an unlikely friendship with Gilbert Lemon, an unusual boy with many problems of his own.
This book describes the feelings of young love that only those who have experienced it can relate to. I would really recommend this book.
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on 9 November 2003
What an inspirational book for teenagers everywhere. It follows the life of Sapphire, a pregnant fourteen year old and the choices she faces. Everyone in her family think they know the best choice for her and the baby. It covers all the options she has and in the end she realises its her choice and no one elses. An inspiration for all who need a little perspective on lifes choices.
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on 22 May 2011
Sapphire is 14 and realises that life isn't sweet like chocolate, but rather a place where she has to grow up faster than she ever expected. Sapphire's tale explores the heartache of teenage pregnancy when the world around her pulls her in different directions. She is faced with choices that seem unfair to be placed on the shoulders of such a young girl, however ultimately she must learn to make her own decisions accepting that in life there are always consequences. The book is a gripping read mastered with imagery that lasts a lifetime. I also recommend Exodus another thought provoking masterpiece.
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on 8 December 2008
Sapphire Dean has just found out she's pregnant and everybody is trying to tell her what to do. As she tries to come to terms with her situation she meets Gilbert, the firebug, and together they develop a friendship which helps Sapphire face up to her future and Gilbert confront his past

It had me right from its striking opening image and held me all the way to the final page. It's been a long time since I read Berlie Doherty's Dear Nobody, but the feelings it evoked have never left me and Julie Bertagna is definitely Doherty's equal when it comes to delivering a thoughtful, beautifully written, in no way patronising narrative about issues that really matter. There are so many straightforward books bundled into "teenage fiction" that it makes a refreshing change to read one by an author who understands the power of language and who can write attractive, pleasing prose without sacrificing the driving force of the plot.

My only quibble would be that Bertagna addresses so many issues alongside teenage pregnancy that it almost begins to feel like a box-ticking exercise. Perhaps it's my age, but in a book of this length I would have preferred some of the side issues to be hinted at rather than discussed explicitly. This is a minor detail, however, which does not affect the impact of her storytelling one bit. She presents a whole range of viewpoints sympathetically and consequently allows the reader to appreciate each one without feeling like he or she is being coerced into judging the characters.

A fantastic book - I will definitely look out for more books by Julie Bertagna in future.
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on 8 January 2006
"Searing" would be the best word to describe this book. It describes a 'tinderbox' summer, the one you always wanted as a kid when there was no rain, just days and days of endless sunshine. But the heat masks many troubles. Bertagna turns the weather into a metaphor for the troubled, blocked relationships in the book.
Sapphire's relationship with Jay began with the summer nights - now, at the height of summer, she finds out she's pregnant. Her parents have been too busy running a retirement home to realise how she's lost her way: her father still thinks of her as a little girl, her mother spends her gin-soaked nights in a makeshift darkroom, dreaming of how things could have been. Both of them are appalled at the news and their guilt causes them to react in very different ways. The very fact of her pregnancy changes Sapphire's life, even though she hasn't had the baby yet. Bertagna examines all the pressures on her protagonist: the Church demanding she keep the baby, her mother insisting she abort it, her sister setting up a deal so that Sapphire can sell the baby and get some money for it at the same time. Meanwhile, Gilbert Lemon takes care of his own boredom and pain in the only way he knows how, dreaming of a girl who will come down from space and replace the mother who left him so many years ago...
The two storylines entwine and meet in an explosive climax. Bertagna is too good a writer to offer an easy way out: instead, she offers hope and the knowledge that Sapphire and Gilbert will bounce back.
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on 2 March 2007
There isn't anything wrong with the plot and the way the book is written: I actually think that switching the third person narrative to each of the characters is a good technique; but I don't think the book ends or begins in the right place: I wondered if the beginning and end of the book had accientally not been put in when the book was printed: To me I think the book leaves alot of questions at the end. Maybe the more intelligent minds will see the reason behind this, but in my opinion I think it could have been a bit longer.
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