Sal – Mick Kitson

34215676.jpgAfter a year of planning and preparation, Sal is ready. Ready to protect her sister, Peppa, and take matters into her own hands. On the run after killing her mum’s abusive boyfriend, Sal takes Peppa to survive in the Galloway Forest.

This is a really special book. I loved Sal, and was really impressed that a middle-aged man was able to write from the perspective of a troubled 13-year-old girl so perfectly. Because the book is written from Sal’s point-of-view, it goes off on random tangents and we get important parts of the story bit by bit, as she thinks of them. It’s a really interesting style of writing that I really enjoyed.

A lot of heavy subjects are featured in this book: abuse, murder, alcoholism, neglect. But they’re approached in a way that isn’t too hard-hitting, while also not making light of them.

Laced with humour, this is the moving and brilliantly written story of a young girl taking control.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas

34108705Starr is sixteen years old, living in a rough neighbourhood but attending a posh (mostly white high school in the suburbs. One night, Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her friend, Khalil (unarmed), by a police officer (white). As the only witness, what Starr says could make her a target by both the police and her own community. But, it could also help to make a change.

I really, really enjoyed this book. It’s funny, current, and moving. The characters are fantastic and relatable, especially Starr. Our lives are nothing alike and yet, because she’s such a well-written character, I was able to connect with her. I loved Starr’s narrative voice, and the way the book is written in her accent. The writing was very easy to read and very well done.

The Hate U Give is an important and eye-opening story. It was particularly interesting for me as a white, British reader because we definitely don’t hear as much about the kind of issues addressed in this book as maybe we should.

As far as teen fiction goes, I’m not sure this book actually deserves the amount of hype it has received. Honestly, I feel like the main reason it’s been so popular is because it deals with such an important topic. It’s a good book, but it’s not the best. That being said, I still think it should be read, especially by teens who don’t get much exposure to the real issues behind #BlackLivesMatter.

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The Betrayals – Fiona Neill

35567742Rosie and Lisa were best friends, raising their children together and sharing everything. But one summer everything changed. Lisa had an affair with Rosie’s husband, Nick, destroying Lisa and Rosie’s relationship, and tearing apart the rest of the family. Years later, Rosie receives a letter from Lisa asking for her help. As the rest of the family recall their version of what happened that summer, who should you believe?

What I liked about The Betrayals was getting the story from four sides. Rosie, Nick, Daisy and Max all remember the past differently, and it was really interesting to see what aspects some of them remember and others leave out. It was also interesting to see how what happened effected each of them.

What I didn’t like about the book was the characters. Like, any of them. Rosie was okay, but a bit bland. Daisy and Max were just really annoying and unlikeable. Nick was an absolute bastard and I can’t even cope with him. I hated every chapter written from his point of view because I just wanted to hit him. And don’t even get me started on Lisa and Ava; selfish, nasty people. Rex was actually alright but we didn’t get to hear that much about him.

The story itself was quite good, well-written and unpredictable. Unfortunately, the characters were all just so awful that I couldn’t enjoy it properly.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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The Truth and Lies of Ella Black – Emily Barr

35608668Ella Black has a safe and relatively happy life. Her only issue is trying to hide the ‘bad’ side of her personality, Bella. Until one day, out of the blue, her parents pull her out of school and whisk her away to Rio de Janeiro. Determined to find out why, Ella searches through their things and discovers that her entire life has been a lie. Hurt and confused, Ella runs away, but she can’t outrun the truth.

So, this book is weird because it’s kind of about mental illness, but then it’s also kind of not. Ella definitely seems to have some kind of mental problem (Bella – her bad side), but any actual illness is never diagnosed, confirmed or properly discussed. The story didn’t really seem to be about that.

Ella herself was a super annoying character. She’s irresponsible, unkind and incredibly selfish. I hated the way she treated her parents, and I was also confused about her being almost 18. She didn’t act like any 17/18 year old I’ve ever known, and behaved more like a 15 year old. Considering that the entire book revolves around her, I didn’t enjoy it much.

I only really made it the whole way through the book because a) it wasn’t very long, and b) I just wanted to know who was going to die (not a spoiler because we know at the very start that someone is going to die, just not who or how). After getting all the way to the end to find that out, I was really disappointed. The death part is anti-climatic and, by that point, I’d pretty much lost interest.

In addition to all that, the romance aspect was absolute DRIVEL. Insta-love at its absolute worst.

If Ella wasn’t such an arse I’d probably have enjoyed it a little bit more, but to be honest the whole story wasn’t exceptional.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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