Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Lexiland by Suzi Moore Review & Guest blog post (Children's, 10 years +, 10/10)

31st January 2013, Simon and Schuster
288 pages, Paperback
Review copy

Themes: mystery, family secrets, losing friends, feeling alone, having medicine without knowing what it's for, new friendship, accepting people as they are, parents at odds with each other, hating birthdays, making mistakes, moving on from the past, lots of tension and thrills, tissues most definitely needed, 

Summary from Simon and Schuster

 A year ago ten-year-old Emma's twin sister Laura choked to death on a slice of birthday cake. Or did she?

Since then life has not been the same, her parents are always arguing , her Mum is over protective and her little brother Rory seems to get all the attention. Emma thinks she's become invisible, she hates school and despite the fact that she is super bright and has a photographic memory she thinks she's really dull. She's even started to hear her sister's voice before she goes to sleep, who tries to help her face up to her problems, but without Laura really by her side Emma still feels like the loneliest girl in school. Then, someone totally different steps into her world or rather their two worlds collide.

Lexi is an unpredictable force of nature. She has wild, curly red hair and she wears an eye patch. But why? What happened to her? Where is she from? She's a mystery to Emma, a mystery which slowly unravels when they become friends. Their friendship won't happen overnight and it won't happen easily but, it will be unique because they have both lost something. They have both lost something that they have to learn to live without. 

Nayuleska's thoughts

I was gripped throughout the entire book. There's something intriguing about a character who's living through a major loss in their life. The way Emma shut herself away from life is heartbreaking. I can see why she does it but I can see she wants to be comforted. Lexi was an enigma who made me smile a lot. It was interesting the way they didn't gel with each other, and the way they become friends made me go 'aww'. The major twist at the end was something I hadn't expected at all in this 10/10 read. 

To read my theory, highlight this paragraph. Ignore it if you don't want a minor spoiler. I've read a vaguely similar book to this in the past, which made me think that Laura was part of Emma's imagination. The pill she is given each day by her parents made me think that Emma was suffering from a mental illness, where she totally imagined Laura. My theory wobbled a little when certain things about Laura were mentioned (including her death), but the way others treated Emma seemed to confirm my suspicions (few at school talkd about Laura directly). I was very wrong in this suspicion. I did speak to Suzi about my thoughts, and she wished she could have done something like it.

Suggested read

For another heart-breaking, emotional read try Black Heart Blue by Louise Reid

It gives me great pleasure to present a guest blog post by Suzi about writing.

 I’d been writing picture books for a year when my agent suggested I try writing a novel. I spent a great deal of time just thinking and playing around with various fantasies but nothing felt right. “I’m stuck.” I sulkily complained to my husband one evening. “I just can’t think of anything that a ten year old girl would like to read.” He listened to all my crazy ideas and said, “Well what were you like when you were ten years old?”  I thought about it with a bit of a shudder. I suddenly saw myself all alone at school, shy, nervous and uncomfortable in the very itchy scratchy uniform. A whole load of memories came back to me. The shiny black shoes that were too big, the girl next door who died when a tree fell on her car, the playground squabbles and the smell of the classroom, my grandfather and his twin sister picking me up from school in his ancient car which blew out big clouds of black smoke and how I felt the day my grandmother died. I put down my knife and fork, ran upstairs to my office and wrote the first chapter of Lexiland.

My sister died on March the first which was really annoying because it was my birthday.  
Actually it was our birthday.  Laura was my identical twin. 

It happened very quickly and the doctor said ‘: ‘It didn’t hurt.’ ’. I said: ‘At least she got to open all her presents first.’ Mum didn’t think that was funny. I told her that I wasn’t trying to be funny, but I thought that, if it had been me, if I had choked on a slice of birthday cake, if it had been my very last birthday ever, I would have at least liked to have opened my presents first. 

But, that doesn’t really matter now, because I don’t like birthdays any more. 

I don’t like Christmas any more either. We’ve had one Christmas without Laura and my Mum was miserable. She cries a lot now.  My parents argue a lot and my little brother, Rory, talks to the wallpaper. 

Sometimes, I hear my parents shouting late at night and once I heard my Mum say: ‘Emma (that’s me by the way) looks so like Laura that some days I find it hard to look at her. Sometimes, I think I’m looking at a ghost.’

The morning after that I went into the bathroom and, using the sharpest pair of scissors I could find, I cut off all my hair. All of it. But I couldn’t reach the back so I was left with two dark, brown tufts. I thought they looked a bit like mouse ears so, with a black felt tip I drew a nose and six black whiskers on my face. I showed Rory and he laughed so loud that Mum came into the bathroom to see what we were doing.

Mum:    Oh my God! What have you done?”

I wriggled my nose and smiled.

Me:        Squeak! Squeak!

Rory was still laughing.

Rory:     I wanna be a mouse too Mummy! Can I? Can I? Please?

But Mum just cried and cried.

Me:        What’s wrong? Do I still look like a ghost?

Many thanks for this insightful read and the first part of Lexiland Suzi! 

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