When I was asked whether or not I would like to review Dandelion Clocks, I jumped at the chance. There seems to be a flood of recent YA books tackling...moreWhen I was asked whether or not I would like to review Dandelion Clocks, I jumped at the chance. There seems to be a flood of recent YA books tackling the tough subject that is cancer, and this book is another of those. Thankfully, I think that Dandelion Clocks does add something new to this market, and it's something that's definitely worth checking out, especially for those on the 'younger' side of the young adult genre.
Dandelion Clocks is a book that is said to appeal to fans of authors such as Jacqueline Wilson, Cathy Cassidy or Annabel Pitcher. With this suggestion, you'd assume that it's a book written specifically for middle grade children, and I can easily say that yes it is, but it I would certainly not hesitate to recommend this book to any older teen or even to any adult. I was very pleasantly surprised with the complexity that this book had, the author has proven to have such a wonderful ability of reaching across to different age groups. Though the content matter is treated so carefully that it's accessible, older readers should also appreciate many of the hidden complexities, including the relationships, in this book.
As aforementioned, this is a book that includes many more issues than the main one of cancer. Our very realistic and likeable protagonist, Liv, deals with multiple issues in this book and I commend Westcott for managing to handle them all so well, with a great sense of care and authenticity. In this novel, another focus is on Liv's brother who has Asperger's Syndrome - this was also fascinating to read about because it taught me about the effect of Asperger's on daily life and it was fantastic to see how Liv helped her brother to try understand some things that those with Aspergers find challenging - in fact, I'd say that this issue is probably rightly explored with the same amount of focus and poignancy as the cancer storyline.
What stood out to me most with this book is that it's a real coming of age story for Liv. I enjoyed seeing her subtly mature in accordance with the things around her. I liked seeing how she dealt with everyday issues, such as friendships at school. Most of all I found it interesting to see how her experience shaped her and had an effect on her and helped on the way to forming her identity and maturity. For her age, Liv seemed very mature for her age and that is another reason why I believe the older YA fans will like this book.
Overall, I was very pleasantly surprised by this Dandelion Clocks - I didn't expect to love it as much as I did (for age reasons). I would have never guessed that this was Westcott's debut novel because quite simply, it is written with such a lot of care and talent. If you like the sound of the blurb/synopsis of this book, don't hesitate in picking it up, whoever you are - I am positive that you'll enjoy it. Rebecca Westcott is definitely an author to watch, and I'll definitely pick up her next offering! (less)
Just when I thought I was maybe growing 'out' of young adult books, along came Cammie McGovern, and alongside her came Amy and Matthew, reminding me e...moreJust when I thought I was maybe growing 'out' of young adult books, along came Cammie McGovern, and alongside her came Amy and Matthew, reminding me exactly why I fell in love with YA in the first place.
Amy and Matthew seems like a book that was written for me - it contains everything I love and most importantly, two imperfect protagonists who were easy to admire from the very beginning. Both characters have diagnosable 'disabilities', Amy has Cerebral Palsy and Matthew has OCD. Though both conditions can be very disabling, the characters certainly don't just sit back and let their problems dominate them, which is probably the main reason why I admired them so much. Their lives are undoubtedly affected, as anybody who has (or who has had) an illness will know, and it that's certainly a largely covered issue in the book, but I absolutely loved, and was so relieved, that the personalities of the characters were at the forefront. I enjoyed seeing how the two characters leaned on each other and how their relationship helped improve their wellbeing.
Amy and Matthew learn a lot about themselves through each other and this creates such a perfect chemistry between the two and it's something very special. Amy and Matthew are, quite simply, perfect for each other. If I was Amy, I would love a guy like Matthew, and if I was Matthew, I'd love a girl like Amy. I don't think that anybody could deny that. The two characters are really quite different and that is patly why they work so well together. Though Amy is less physically able than Matthew, she's perhaps slightly stronger emotionally, where as Matthew is more physically able but has a harder time with his emotions. I was very interested to see what Amy was really like, what she really thought and felt, as she seemed like, and was, a very complex person. I can only imagine what it must be like to be in her situation, but I think that McGovern portrayed her amazingly well. I liked seeing how both characters changed throughout the book - I was particularly impressed with Matthew's improvements and recovery.
As someone who has both chronic physical pain and mental illnesses, from what I understand of Amy and Matthew's issues, they were described well and I am glad that their issues were portrayed in a very frank, but not hyperbolic way. I sympathised with them, but didn't pity them. It is good to finally be able read a book about real people with real issues, trying to lead a normal lifestyle.
I hope it's clear how much I loved this book! It's difficult to write in a review, as you really do have to 'meet' Amy and Matthew through reading. I can not thank McGovern enough for getting me back into this genre and reminding me of everything I love about contemporary YA. Amy and Matthew is definitely one of the top YA books out there at the moment. Move over, The Fault In Our Stars and make way for Amy and Matthew! (less)