This novel for teenagers, particularly reluctant girl readers, is honest, inspiring and positive in spite of the very serious issues it deals with.
Sylvie is 15 years old and feels invisible in her family. She calls her mother Pamela Panic, her father Damn-it-all Dave and her older sister Calamity Cate, and refers to herself as Sylvie the Second. Yes the family is dysfunctional and has issues and Sylvie focuses it all on herself.
Older sister Cate has mental health problems, is suicidal and this has fractured the family. The parents sleep in different rooms and all relationships are strained
Sylvie rebels, dyes her hair red and dresses wildly. She attracts the wrong sort of attention in the shape of Chris a rich boy with a “roastbuster” mentality. At a party Sylvie’s already sad life is blown apart. You will have to read the book to find out what happens.
I will say Sylvie does have a wonderful friend in Belle and then there is the wonderful Adam Allegro, the boy Sylvie has built an imaginary shrine in her head about.
Structured in 4-6 page chapters this novel is easy to read with the dialogue within Sylvie’s family and between the teenagers particularly convincing. The ending is positive and heartwarming and there is a gentle Buddhist like philosophy that pervades the pages.
Don’t miss this one it is special.
I often hear teachers and librarians say much is written for reluctant boy readers what about reluctant girl readers. James patterson writes much for reluctant boys and now he has taken on the girls in liaison with Lisa Papadementriou who enables him to get the female teenage voice right.
Margaret “cuckoo” Clarke is at high school but has a hard row to hoe in life stakes. Her mother is flaky which is ok if you’re a piecrust but not so good if you are responsible for another human being. Her mother had bad taste in men and often left Cuckoo alone at home without support for days on end.
When she disappeared for more than two weeks Cuckoo broke down and was taken to what she calls “crazytown”. She is in a mental institution and presents a very sympathetic picture of what it was like in there.
When she comes out she goes back to school and mixes with kids that she nicknames the “freakshow”. The kids are all brilliant and innovative and Cuckoo is not an unhappy girl in fact she is amazingly upbeat. She comments when a rich boy takes her out and asks why she mixes with her freaky friends. She replies “everybodys’ weird once you get to know them”.
This is what I like about the novel. It is crazy yet perceptive and at times enormously funny.
Every other page of this novel carries illustrations that picture the characters and what is going on. They are accompanied with comments that will make you laugh and cry.
Easy to read, with a portrait of American High school life that takes the water. Reluctant girls will love this even boys if they are brave enough. I was.
Splintered by A. G. Howard. Pub. Amulet Books London, 2013.
Many have tried to expand on the story of Alice in Wonderland but few have succeeded as well as A. G. Howard. This is an excellent read for fantasy lovers and those that know ‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe.
It poses the possibility that Lewis Carroll’s book was a real-life account of Alice Liddell’s experience and that Alice became mentally unsound after her experiences but did manage to bring up a family.
It is believed that because of mistakes made by Alice in Wonderland that all female ancestors would have a curse that caused them to hear what plants and animals were saying. Voices in the head is not a good thing in our society and the main character in this novel, Alyssa has a mother Alison who is in a mental institute, often in a strait jacket, who tells Alyssa that she will be next.
Alyssa and her brilliant father visit Alison every day and during these visits Alison talks to Alyssa in what she thinks are riddles but in fact are clues to her past and future.
She tells Alyssa that she must go down the Rabbit Hole again to remove a curse that makes all the ancestor’s go mad. But where and how to do this? Alyssa unravels some clues while visiting her mother, finds a key and goes through the Looking glass, down the rabbit hole and into Wonderland.
The inhabitants are happy to see Alyssa and think it is Alice returned. To find out any more you will have to read the book.
I was sold on this book after the first paragraph. It is beautifully written and the ending will melt the hearts of those of you that have romance in their souls. For the serious there are mental health issues especially ECT. Senior secondary and gifted readers will get the most out of it.