Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Blog Tour: Review + Guest Blog Post Dandelion Clocks by Rebecca Westcott (Children's, 11 years +, 10E/10E)

 6th March 2014, Puffin, 288 pages, Paperback, Review copy 

Themes: denial, misunderstanding, family craziness, fluctuating feelings and friendships, wanting life to slow down/stop/rewind, having family with Asperger's
Content: depression, grief, a box of tissues is needed

Summary from Puffin
Liv takes us on a journey through her life from "Thirteen Weeks Before" to "Six Months After". We discover Liv's passion for photography, her brother's obsession with sticking to the rules, the stupidity of Moronic Louise at school, and how the family copes as Mum's terminal illness takes hold . . . Guided by Mum's own childhood diaries, Liv finds a new way to live.

Nayuleska's thoughts
It's no secret that I can cry easily over books, anime, and video games for happy and sad occasions. I knew I'd cry a fair amount while reading Liv's story of finding out then coming to terms with her mother's death. I cried on and off a bit before page 70 something. I didn't expect to cry solidly for 150+ pages. Sure I took a minute or two to have a break, thinking the rest might help but the tears started back up. You don't need to have personally experienced losing a loved one as you can feel it clearly coming off the page.

Look, I even got a tear splodge to prove how much this book made me cry! 

This is the most powerful book about losing a loved one that I've ever read. Words can't do Liv's story justice because it is all about feelings and emotions. It's about me wondering when Liv would find out the truth. It's about me feeling so sad when Liv's mother was cramming as many life lessons in to the precious time she had left with an at first unaware, typical tween daughter.

Liv struggled to cope with her brother who needed her to be the sensible one despite being younger. She loves him but does resent the times when he makes her life abnormal to the way she thinks she should be living. I love how Liv tried to hard for her hobby and felt she failed, yet then thought of a deed for her mother which got the entire family involved and made a difference when the time came - you can work out what that time was when you read the book.

I loved how life carried on around Liv, giving her more to cope with than she cared for. The intensity of her grief was heart-wrenching to read, especially since her depression was blindingly obvious. How her dad acted to her afterwards, as well as how tender her mum was before she left pulled on my heart in many directions. The fact that words like death and cancer aren't really ever spoken heightened the emotions. I could easily go on and on about the depths of this book, but I will round it up as you need to read the book rather than my rambles. It was interesting how Liv's view of her mum's diaries changed, and that in time she realised the importance of the journals which she ends up literally sleeping on at the end. That is why as part of the blog tour Rebecca is letting us have an extract of her own diaries from when she was young! You can read all about it right after the suggested read.

You can find out more on Rebecca's website.

Suggested read
Another family orientated series with grief thrown in is the astoundingly awesome Chocolate Box Girls series by Cathy Cassidy, especially Cherry Crush which is suggested in the back of Dandelion Clocks but somehow isn't reviewed here on NRC yet (I do have it...), but you can take a peek at Summer's Dream (Children's, 9 years +, 10E/10E)
Isn't the cover awesome!!

Guest Blog Post: An extract from Rebecca's childhood diary!

Considering how important diaries are for Liv, it's exciting for Rebecca to let the entire world see what life was like for her when she was 15 years old. I'd admire her for doing this - other stops in the tour have different aged extracts.

March 1990    (aged 15)

            Today has been quite good. Uncle M is staying with us and he’s been playing me loads of new music. My favourites are a band called INXS (everyone laughed at me at school cos I didn’t know that you have to say their name like ‘In Excess’ – I thought they were called ‘Inks’) and a singer called Tracey Chapman who has got an amazing voice and sounds a bit like a man.
            School is rubbish. In cross country me and Harriet thought we’d really make an effort today. We thought that we could do that whole ‘mind over matter’ thing and when the race started we ran as fast as we possibly could. But by the time we’d got to the bottom of the hill, virtually the entire year group had overtaken us. So we were last. Again. I really hate PE – I think it’s against my human rights to subject me to such humiliation. I must be really healthy cos Mum only ever lets me eat green stuff – but some people’s bodies just obviously aren’t designed for exercise. Carrie hid in the hedge halfway round the race loop and sat there until people started running past, when she joined back in. I don’t actually approve of that cos it’s cheating (but I sort of wish I’d done it too cos I was still hot and sweaty in maths, which wasn’t a good look).
            Got a book out of the library today called Flowers In The Attic. Mum would not be happy if she read it – she’s still trying to get me to read the very boring Hobbit. I did try (I didn’t have much choice when I got it for Easter a few years ago instead of an Easter egg) but it’s seriously boring. Just loads of dull description and nothing actually ever happening.

Thank you Rebecca for writing a book that makes me need a lot of tissues, as well as sharing your private thoughts here on NRC - your mother most definitely would not have been happy with Flowers In The Attic. Did she ever find out that you read it back then? I agree that The Hobbit is boring - feel the same about The Lord of the Rings

Please do check out the other stops on the tour, whose details can be found below.  

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