Boys don’t cry – Malorie Blackman

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On A Level results day the doorbell rings, it’s not the postman with your results but your ex-girlfriend with a baby. She pops out to get supplies and calls to say the child’s yours and she’s not coming back.

Dante is thrown into a life he didn’t chose (ok I know some of you will say he had sex he did chose it but by not knowing that Emma even existed means he didn’t), as struggles to work out what to do and how he can be a father he’s faced with more than just the sleepless nights and trying to work out why his daughter is crying instead of the Freshers nights at uni he planned. One of the many things that stand out about this novel is that it is entirely believable. This could happen in real life and I feel really sorry for the guys who aren’t told until the child is born (unless of course there is an abusive nature to the relationship). Dante handles the sudden shock as many young men would do I think, disbelief, a little bit of denial, struggling and then trying to make a tough decision.

“How could ten forgettable minutes of not much turn both our lives inside out and upside down like this?” 

There are a lot of novels out there that portray the struggles that young mothers face after the birth of a baby, although Blackman highlights this when Melanie says she can’t cope, she has done a fantastic job in showing the struggles of a young father – something society seems to forget. From sexist remarks when he doesn’t know the answer to something ‘Maybe her Mum could come in and register her’, to the social worker who has concerns about the father raising a child alone and generally not knowing what to do on a natural level that women have from carrying a child for nine months. With help from his own Dad and brother (after his Mum had passed away when he was younger) he slowly begins to work out what’s best for him and Emma.

The use of subplot was used spectacularly as well, never one to hide from tough things to deal with Dante’s younger brother Adam has his own worries. Although Adam is comfortable with his sexuality, other around him (including his father and older brother) aren’t as comfortable. One night things change dramatically leaving everyone on edge and Adam’s future hanging in the balance.

I’m giving Boys Don’t Cry five stars *****. I loved this novel, it had a really unique perspective and challenged a lot of perceptions of young Dads. Once again Blackman has shown us the world through a view we might not necessarily consider, if I had my way schools would have to teach this in a combined English/Health class and hopefully we would also have a less judgemental society out of it. I’d love to read a sequel to this and I’m full to the brim with questions…so you can tell it’s a great novel!

Review by Chloe Metzger

 

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Where there’s smoke – Jodi Picoult

Picoult once again gives us a spellbinding tale, however, this time in the form of a short story released free for all Kindle and app holders. Where there’s smoke is a prequel to Jodi’s eagerly anticipated novel Leaving Time which comes out later this year. This time we see the world through Serenity’s view, a hot shot television psychic who makes a catastrophic mistake that threatens to not only end her career but also destroy her life.  As things quickly start to fall apart in front of her eyes Serenity realises that fame isn’t always a good thing, but how far will she go to salvage her reputation before she loses it all?

I couldn’t believe that by the end of this short story not only did I feel like I’d fallen into Serenity’s world and was actually living it alongside her, I started to believe in her world. I’m not someone who is into psychics and hangs onto their every word, but somehow I was hooked and started really thinking about the possibilities. It sounds extreme but this is the talent that Picoult holds, something I was entirely sceptical about was going around in my mind. Not only that but by the end of the novella I was desperate to start the novel, which we’ll have to wait until November for! In simply 40 pages Picoult has wet our appetites for the next instalment, however, we won’t have to wait that long as another short story is due to be published in the summer.

Even though I’m not usually a fan of short stories this was fantastic. I want to give this 5 stars *****, it may be short but there is certainly a lot of action involved. The only sad part is that those who don’t have an electronic device to read won’t be able to see this even after the novel is published. Other than that the short story is perfect and a great way to get us involved in the story before the novel is even released.

Review by Chloe Metzger 

If I Stay – Gayle Forman

‘I realise now dying is easy. Living is hard.’

After a fatal car crash that leaves 17 year old Mia barely alive If I Stay lets us follow her through her as she questions whether to comeback, after being certain she has lost both of her parents. Mia has a choice to make. As she watches her family and friends come to terms with the disaster she has to decide will she stay? Or will she let go into the unknown…

As with many other people I because aware of this novel because of its film release (due later this year), I’s heard good things about the novel and the film looked brilliant. We’re guided through the novel by Mia herself as she struggles to watch the rest of the day unfold. All she can do is watch and listen. Her family, friends and boyfriend are all willing her to come back and it’s up to Mia to decide if that’s enough.

Although I like the idea, the novel didn’t particularly stand out to me. The novel is fairly short and sways between the present and past and gives us a good insight into Mia’s life before the accident. I found it hard to connect to the story, of course it made me sad but I didn’t feel a deep rooted connection to Mia or the characters around her. That said, I did feel an incredible connection in relation to how she felt about her music and the prospect of being a musician and this added to the sense of tragedy. If anything I would have loved more insight into her love of music and her hopes and dreams, although maybe this was intentional.

Forman has ventured into a question that few of us will even consider answering, if I could chose would I live or die? For many of us we would instantly say I’d live, but would we? This is not the first novel of its kind, however, it is the first for young adult readers, it makes them think. I makes the reader consider a life without their loved ones and the choices and sacrifices that are made every day. I wouldn’t say that the novel is morbid in that respect but it deals with death in quite a straight forward way, for Mia it appears to be more of an escape. It also raises the question of life after, we have no idea how Mia will be affected by her injurys if she decides to survive. Will she play Cello again? Will her dream of going to Julliard be snatched away from her as her parents were? Is her younger brother Teddy, who she adores, still alive? As I said it is a novel full of questions and what if situations.

If anything I’d say that the book could have been longer. Although well written, there was so much crammed into the book that at times I felt rushed through. I wanted to know the smaller details, memories and possibly more about more minor characters in the novel to give them a bit more life within the novel. Also what about afterwards? If she decides to die, does she meet her family? If she lives do her dreams come true? I guess to an extent this leaves us to make up our own minds but I wish this was included in the novel. 

 I give this novel 3 stars ***. I liked the idea and found Mia to be a nice character but failed to interact with her as a person. I also found that I was hungry for more at the end of the novel and felt that it could have had a better ending or more to it maybe? If you’re looking for a shorter read that raises questions then If I Stay may well be for you.

 

Review by Chloe Metzger