Laurence Roach is fifteen years old. His mother is an alcoholic, his six year old brother pretends to be a dog. Still, he gets through life. He is tryLaurence Roach is fifteen years old. His mother is an alcoholic, his six year old brother pretends to be a dog. Still, he gets through life. He is trying to win a holiday for his family on the radio, hoping it might bring a positive change to their rotten lives. And then his mother disappears, and Laurence finds himself struggling to pretend that everything is alright, scared that he and his brother would be sent into foster care.
This book deals with some serious issues, from neglect/abuse to alcoholism, depression and illness. The story definitely has tearjerk moments, but never becomes too sappy. Sometimes you don't understand why Laurence does something, until you remember: This is just a 15 year old boy trying to uphold life for himself and his little brother. Young, naive, yet old beyond his age, sometimes a bit rash, sometimes angry, sometimes sad, Laurence is always a protagonist you can get behind in a struggle that feels all too real. The other characters are just as lovable, consistent, real, and the plot might suspend disbelief sometimes, but never in a jarring way.
A delightful read, somehow lighthearted and pleasant despite the topic, touching, moving, thought-inspiring, a rare feat for a YA novel, and definitely not something to miss out on. ...more
Oh, where to even begin with this book. Let's start with how there is no remotely likeable character in this except for two side character whose appeaOh, where to even begin with this book. Let's start with how there is no remotely likeable character in this except for two side character whose appearances are extremely limited (Devon and Sophie). Let's continue with how the main character especially (Grace) is grating at the best of times. Let's then move on to how big, sensitive topics (teenage pregnancy, depression, self-mutilation, neglect, suicide) are treated as plot devices that have no impact expect to further the personal drama of the central characters. And let's end with how the big mysteries of the book are glaringly obvious long, very long, before they are "revealed" in the book.
I bought the book because I thought the prospect sounded like it could be exciting, with Grace waking up in a white room, imprisoned with a kidnapper who takes good care of her, but with nothing to do all day but write down her story. Except the author clearly had no idea how to use this device to narrate her story. Instead of a gripping, emotional tale I got poorly constructed teenage drama, and let's not even mention how we are supposed to believe we are reading what Grace "wrote down" when it reads more like her own inner narrative at the time things happened. Which would have worked much better than the whole "we read what she wrote down" thing when you can't suspend disbelief for more than half a dozen pages.
The story could have been beautiful and heartbreaking if it had been told differently. Cutting isn't treated as a real problem, but is once again just something a bored teenager with no real problems does to show how sensitive and emotional and troubled she is. Even when she really isn't. Pregnancy? Well, yeah, happens, but other than being a plot device to set up best friends and boyfriends acting shitty nothing comes of it anyway. Depression is apparently no real medical condition, it's just what happens when you fight with your best friend and your boyfriend is unhappy with you. I could go on, but I won't. This book isn't deep, mysterious, emotional, touching. It's just the typical teenage drama you can tune in to every night on every channel, with no originality or emotional impact whatsoever....more
Reviewing this book is difficult. I was completely taken at first, by the style, the slowly unfurling backstory, the imagery each page invoked.
LittleReviewing this book is difficult. I was completely taken at first, by the style, the slowly unfurling backstory, the imagery each page invoked.
Little Bee has been trapped in a detention center after coming to the UK from Nigeria. She has tried to prepare for life outside the walls of this place ever since, but when she is finally able to leave, nothing turns out quite like she plans when she meets up with Sarah, who saved her life what feels like a life time ago, on a beach back in Nigeria. Sarah lost a finger, her husband, her clean-cut life, and Little Bee lost so much more.
The book starts out drawing you in completely as Little Bee tells her tale. The connection between her and Sarah is revealed slowly, and the suspense of finding out what happened and what is going to happen is always thick. However, once this is revealed, the book starts losing its way. Sarah becomes unlikeable, side charaters like Clarissa and Lawrence are hardly easy to like from the beginning, and unlikely twists and conclusions are simply meant to create more drama and suspension. Without all the drama of Sarah's personal life (her midlife crisis about her job, her affair with Lawrence) and just a little less randomness towards the end, the book could have been so much more.
I would have given three stars for a compelling story and initially beautiful narrative before the author became entangled in both so much, but have to deduct one star for the cheap marketing ploy spread all over the jacket, where the plot is not given except for the barest sketch (two women meet once, and they meet again two years later), and the book is proclaimed a life-changer, special, amazing, and certainly nothing you want to spoil by writing anything about what to actually expect on the back. The story could have mostly stood well on its own without such a cheap device, but as it is, the artificial hype just makes the book that much more of a let-down in the end despite what it does right....more