Thursday, 25 May 2017

Blog Tour: Review + Q&A for Wishbones by Virginia MacGregor (Young Adult, 10E/10E)

 18th May 2017, Harlequin Teen, 384 pages, Paperback, Review copy 

Summary from HarperCollins
Feather Tucker has two wishes:

1)To get her mum healthy again

2) To win the Junior UK swimming championships
When Feather comes home on New Year’s Eve to find her mother one of Britain’s most obese women- in a diabetic coma, she realises something has to be done to save her mum’s life. But when her Mum refuses to co-operate Feather realises that the problems run deeper than just her mum’s unhealthy appetite.

Over time, Feather’s mission to help her Mum becomes an investigation. With the help of friends old and new, and the hindrance of runaway pet goat Houdini, Feather’s starting to uncover when her mum’s life began to spiral out of control and why. But can Feather fix it in time for her mum to watch her swim to victory? And can she save her family for good?

Nayu's thoughts
I was intrigued by how Feather (an apt name when you get to know her) copes with her mum's weight issues as well as another key character's issues. In an ideal world children shouldn't have to worry about a parent, but Feather does because of the major health implications of her mum's weight. While she is old enough to worry and do her best to get her mum on the road to healthier living, Feather doesn't always get told the reasons why her efforts aren't working. Because she isn't an adult who has a wider experience of life and can cope with the emotionally hard reality of why her mum gained so much weight, the adults try to shield Feather from the truth. She goes the extra mile and them some, but unfortunately for a good part of the story her mum simply isn't interested in changing herself. As a result Feather goes through many emotions, anger and frustration being hard to handle. 

It was sweet of her to never give up, even when something she tries fails spectacularly. She figures out a new plan which is inventive in giving her mum the support she needs. It was harder when Feather's best friend Jake isn't quite himself, and their friendship gets a bit unstable. I correctly guessed the reason for that distance, something which Feather didn't see coming. I loved the swimming part of the story, how she had something to work for outside of her family issues. I adore the fancy dress shop owner who takes Feather under her wing when Feather needs some time away from her family after a major plot twist. I wish every child with issues had such a good adult figure in their life! Without her I don't think Feather would have successfully figured out how she felt about the revelation, and what path she needed to take next. It's a brilliant read combining several weight and mental health issues into a read that I couldn't put down. Definitely one for the reread shelf! 

Find out more on Virginia's website.

Question and Answer session with Virginia MacGregor
Another book by Virginia

Nayu) It's with great pleasure that I was able to ask Virginia some questions about the book! 
1)  What drew you to pick both obesity and diabetes as diseases that Feather's mum has to deal with, and the topic of being a young carer?
Both in my adult and young adult fiction, I like to focus on strong contemporary issues that have a resonance in our lives.  Obesity, eating disorders and their related complications like diabetes, are increasingly common, especially in the Western world. My feeling is that both over and under-eat eating have a closer relationship that we realise at that their root is psychological rather than physical: this is something I explore through Feather’s mother and Feather’s friend, Clay. I believe that fiction develops our understanding and empathy for those going through difficulties; fiction also makes helps us feel more understood when we are struggling. This is particularly important for young adults who often feel very alone and misunderstood. 

As regards being a young carer, this came partly through my own experience. When I was thirteen my parents went through a messy divorce which left my mother broken both physically and emotionally. Overnight, I went from being a child to an adult: I was the only one  there to care for her. I know that there are children all over the world who have to care for sick parents or relatives and that this puts a huge burden on them. It’s also something I explored in my first adult novel, What Milo Saw, in which a nine year old boy looks after his great-grandmother.

2) Did you ever think about having Feather have some mental health issues (which from the summary I'm guessing her mum has), instead of her mum?
Not really. I wanted her to be the strong, constant pillar in both her family and her community. Although her mother could be said to have mental health issues, it’s more just grief and coming to terms with something tragic that has happened in her past.

3)  Without giving away spoilers what were the easiest and hardest parts of the book to write?
Feather’s voice, her character and the quirky bits of the novel, like Houdini the goat, were fun and relatively easy to write.  Getting to the root of what happened to Feather’s parents and it’s consequences was harder: what they’ve been through is not something I have experienced directly and I knew it had to be handled sensitively. Seeing it through the eyes of a young girl felt like the best way to tackle such a delicate subject. I hope I haven’t given away any spoilers! 

4)  Is there any reason why you chose Houdini to be a goat? Do you have a goat/like goats?
I’m a great animal lover: I believe that they have a special spiritual connection, that they see and feel more than we do and that when we relate to them, and that they enrich our lives by letting us into these other worlds.  I’ve always lived with cats but I’d have a whole menagerie if I had the space (and if I could convince my husband!).  Ever since I spent an afternoon with some baby goats when I was on holiday in Austria, I’ve always dreamt of having a goat as a pet, so by writing Houdini into Wishbones, I was able to experience that vicariously! I find them wonderfully quirky and Houdini added just the right touch of light to a novel that has moments that are very sad. I think that children and teenagers, in particular, have a special bond to animals: they can confide in them and, through them, they learn important lessons about caring for other living beings. I love to watch my little girls interacting with animals.

5) Where's your favourite place to write? Do you have a favourite drink to write with? 
 I love to write in coffee shops – I wrote the whole of Wishbones in a coffee shop in England – with the most wonderful barista called Richard looking after me! Since moving to America, I’ve been writing in a gorgeous juice bar owned by one of my best friends. I find it easier to write surrounded by people and the buzz of life. My favourite drinks are either an almond latte (extra hot) or a green juice: one balanced the other out!
Suggested read
Check out this series about a teen dealing with a mother who has hoarding issues (I have only read book #1)  is Love, Lies and Lemon Pies by Katy Cannon (Young Adult, 9/10E)

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