Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Blog Tour: Review + Q&A for I Have No Secrets by Penny Joelson (Young Adult, Thriller, 10E/10E)

4th May 2017, Electric Monkey, 336 pages, Paperback, Review copy

Summary from Egmont
Jemma knows who did the murder. She knows because he told her. And she can't tell anyone. 

Fourteen-year-old Jemma has severe cerebral palsy. Unable to communicate or move, she relies on her family and carer for everything. She has a sharp brain and inquisitive nature, and knows all sorts of things about everyone. But when she is confronted with this terrible secret, she is utterly powerless to do anything. Though that might be about to change...

Nayu's thoughts
This book reached me in a magical way. Rather the publicist Nina is magical. We were exchanging emails about the blog tour one day and I mentioned I hadn't got a copy. After discussing what I'd do for content as I was after an alternate to divulging small secrets, the post came. I went to check amd the book appeared! I hastily emailed Nina back explaining how magical she is after she said we magicked the book to my door. Publicists are extremely fun people to be around!

As for the book...it's spectacularly epic. I know a friend with cerebal palsy, she can walk with sticks so unlike Jemma can move around and communicate just fine. I was intrigued by how Jemma's clearly more severe CP affected her, and was quite humbled by her life. I live with several medical issues including severe chronic pain and fatigue issues, so my life can be rather restrictive in what I can do. Jemma's life made me realise while there is a lot I can't do, what I can do has me mostly independant, able to share my views with you and anyone else in the world, something Jemma wants ever so badly.

 I think because I'm not a normal average healthy person (who in reality probably doesn't exist) I connected deeper than I expected with Jemma. Her need to share her likes and dislikes are clear, with the stakes getting higher when she knows about the murderer's identity. It's very much an edge of your seat read, with lots of learning what life is like for severely disabled people. Carers range from the amazing kind to the absolutely rubbish ones (minor spoiler when I say oh my word what was Rosie thinking!) I felt desperately sorry for all who are treated poorly because people mistakenly think because they can't speak they aren't intelligent. Not so. Jemma is the one who figures out the murderer and how to find them, something that people in power overlooked. 

Jemma and her new best friend was a touching storyline. I liked reading about the other foster children - I'm a big fan of the BBC Tracey Beaker spin-off The Dumping Ground about a care home with children of varying issues, so I was used to Finn and Olivia's behaviour. The taste of freedom Jemma got when she was able to communicate is palpable, and I can relate it to when I realised I'd be able to drive & not rely on my family to take me places since public transport is out of the question for me to use frequently. 

Jemma had many frustrations with the limitations of her body, but her patience is massive too, and I truly realised that I'm extremely blessed by what I can do, even when mundane activities take forever and requires an insane amount of rest after. A lot of readers may be shocked by how much care Jemma needs, which is why it's vital for carers to have compassion and understanding that no matter their capabilities everyone is human and should be treated with respect and dignity. I hope that everyone one day can communicate, as it's a vital part of life which everyone deserves, regardless of their limitations. May technology always improve! 

Keep up to date with Penny on Twitter

Questions and Answers with Penny Joelson
Here's Penny!
Nayu: Penny kindly answered my questions which were from before I'd read the book instead of partaking in the sharing secrets part of the tour! 

1) Cerebal palsy affects people in different ways: I’ve got a friend with it but she can speak, unlike Jemma. What gave you the idea to make Jemma struggle to communicate with people as a key part to the plot?
Penny: I didn’t start by thinking I’d write a story about a character with cerebral palsy. I started with the idea that the one person who knew the identity of a murderer was not able to say anything. Having met, and worked with, people with severe cerebral palsy Jemma’s character appeared in my head fully formed and she seemed a great person to tell this story.

2)  Most of us take the ability to speak without realising how blessed we are with being able to communicate with people. What are you hoping readers will take away from Jemma’s story?

I hope that readers will have more empathy with people who have communication difficulties and also will not make an assumption that lack of communication equals a lack of intelligence. I hope readers will be  more sensitive and less afraid of trying to engage with disabled people.


3)  Without giving away spoilers what were the easiest and hardest parts of the book to write?

Jemma’s inner voice came to life very easily and Dan was also easy to write. I think developing the characters, including Sarah, Mum, Dad, Olivia and Finn was the easiest part. The harder parts were those that required more in depth research and needed to be accurate rather than from my imagination. It was also hard to get the structure right as the story is quite complex.

4)  Will there be more books about Jemma in the future?
I didn’t imagine writing another book about Jemma but I wouldn’t rule it out entirely! 



5)  Where's your favourite place to write? Do you have a favourite drink to write with?

I do most of my writing in the corner of my bedroom – not very glamorous. Occasionally I will write in the garden or go to a cafĂ© but very rarely. I don’t usually drink anything while I’m writing though I do stop for coffee breaks!


Suggested read 
This book is about another teen with mental health issues that make her life really hard:Under Rose Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall (Young Adult, 10E/10E, short 'n' sweet review)


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