I bought this book for the teenage daughter of a friend as I have enjoyed this author's other books (albeit for adults). Checking it through before packing it (for unsuitable content), I am ashamed to say that my friend's daughter never received it on her birthday! Not only is Roberts a talented author for adults, but she ticks the same boxes as the clever Meg Rosoff who writes 'for young adults' but equally easily, captures an adult audience. I was soon engrossed in the story and HAD to know how it all ended. From the adult issues of money worries, extra-marital relationships etc to the teen-relevant storylines about bullying, a romantic interest and teenage carers, this novel really hooks you while trickling out some factual information about a mining disaster in a South Wales town. It came to an end too soon for me, but this is standard practice for teen novels. I will have to wait for a sequel to get a further 'fix'! Later (after fobbing my friend's daughter off with a Boots Voucher!), I gave her Surfing to read. She LOVED it and passed it round her friends, who also gave it a big thumbs up! I see that Bel Roberts is an ex-teacher. This vocation has certainly paid dividends in the writing of Surfing Through Minefields
This book tracks a young girls journey from the affluent south east to the not so affluent south wales valleys and her discovery of its mining heritage and the tragedy wrought to one small village, Senghenydd in the worlds worst ever mining disaster. The author charts this journey of self discovery deftly and against her young central characters own tribulations. This is a finely written work which will appeal to all ages and across many genres.
Lauren, a fifteen year old school girl from Kent, winds up in at her grandmother's in South Wales while her parents sort out their marriage and business difficulties.
Bel Roberts not only gives us a vivid insight into the difficulties Lauren experiences integrating into her new school and forging new relationships, but she also manages to interweave Lauren's quest to discover what is going on between her parents and her research into the Senghenydd Pit Disaster of 1913.
Roberts's description of teacher/pupil interaction is hilarious and witty. She captures the realism of the classroom situation and incorporates brilliantly the social pressures young people experience together with the dynamics that are in play in the relationships between pupils.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it to teachers and young people as an important work of fiction that not only empathises with young people and the varied pressures they are under, but also highlights how young people are more capable and resourceful than we sometimes think. More though, it manages to inform about a significant historical event and the socio-economic circumstances that existed at the time in the language and style that teenages will easily enjoy.
I have been an admirer of Bel Roberts's writing since I came across her hilarious and cleverly-written novel, 'A Discerning Woman's Guide to Manhunting'.
The centenary of the Senghennydd mining disaster occurs in 2013 and, as such, I was drawn to reading Bel Roberts's topical book, 'Surfing through Minefields' both as a Welshman from coal mining stock and as an ex-teacher.
The story unfolds cleverly through the school assignment of a Kent schoolgirl that intertwines with her own set of circumstances almost a century later. Through this approach, the book relates the poignant history of the disaster from an unusual perspective that is both educational and absorbing.
Bel Roberts not only relates an intelligent account, such as I would expect from a writer of her calibre, but her cleverly interwoven delivery does not disappoint.
An outstanding story about a teenager thrown into a strange environment through no fault of her own. We travel with her while she tries to cope with her parent's buisness and relationship problems, new school friends and enemies and love interest. She decides to research the Senghennydd pit disaster for her history project and is touched by the suffering endured by her ancestors. I found the narrative moving without being depressing. A compelling story and a good introduction for anyone interested in the history of Welsh industry.
Bel makes a convincing portrayal of teenage difficulties & resourcefulness in this story which is so different to that of 'A Discerning Woman's Guide to Manhunting'. I find it more serious, and quite movng because of the reference to the Senghennydd mine disaster, though far from being maudlin.
As was illustrated in the opening ceremony of the Olympics, ours is - or rather, was, an industrial society. The vast majority of us come from working class stock - and our ancestors didn't have it so good, as our young heroin discovers.
This is a read I would recommend for our children and grandchildren to give them an idea of where we, Brits, come from historically. Instructive and entertaining for all generations.