Sunday, 9 August 2009

Secrets at St Judes: Jealous Girl by Carmen Reid

July 2009, Corgi Childrens
272 pages
Review copy


Cushions: 1/5
Paperclips: 1/5 (teen relationships)
Smiles: 5/5
Tissues: 2/5
Yunaleska's recommended rating: ♥♥♥♥

Shiny pinky/purple covers will always catch my eye, as will any book evolving around boarding school. It's a topic which continually appeals to readers: as an ordinary day school attender, I often dreamed of attending boarding school. Reading stories about them satisfy that need without having to deal with separation of family.

Gina, finds separation from her family, and to a small extent her friends a little difficult. It isn't her first year at St Judes, an all girls boarding school in Scotland, but the weather is just a little cloudier than sunny California. Her life is far from boring.

Left to return to school on her own, Gina manages to get into trouble before term starts. It's not so bad, it gives her room mates something to talk about. They're already missing Niffy, who dropped out to be close to her mother who's suffering from cancer. School isn't quite right without their fourth companion. They do get a chance to visit Niffy, at her ancestra home, but that visit paints her differently to how Gina imagined it.

Amy is doe-eyed over Jason, who pays her attention in fits and starts. Their relationship takes up all of Amy's time throughout Jealous Girl. She isn't the only one with boys on her mind, Gina learns something about her own almost boyfriend Dermot which makes her question his feelings about her. Even bookworm Min hides a secret crush, not that her friends know about it for a while. They believe she's just getting extra study time in.

Admist the complicated issues with boys, lie the usual school persuits of classes, outings, getting into a spot of bother with teachers - everything expected from a boarding school is present here. Central to everything is friendship: whose school life was ever free from misunderstandings, personal hardships and laugh out loud moments?

I liked how complicated life was for the girls, they each had their own problems to deal with, yet somehow found time to smile and laugh about life. Serious issues are dealt with realistically here, although I felt perhaps the issue revolving around Min didn't have the consequences driven home hard enough. Maybe that's just the responsible, adult side of me speaking.

This is good enough that I'm tracking down a copy of the first book, so can read the backstory to Jealous Girl.

Carmen Reid's website is here

Sadly, I have to wait until Febrary 2010 for the next installment of Gina's life in Drama Girl. It will be reviewed here.

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