Target Audience: Teens/Young Adults
I won this book quite a few months ago now from Jenny at Wondrous Reads so a big thank you to her for giving me this wonderful book which is one I think everyone should read at some point in their lives.
Before I get into my review, here's the synopsis for those wondering exactly what this book is all about:
Ten-year-old Jamie Matthews has just moved to the Lake District with his Dad and his teenage sister, Jasmine for a 'Fresh New Start'. Five years ago his sister's twin, Rose, was blown up by a terrorist bomb.
His parents are wrecked by their grief, Jasmine turns to piercing, pink hair and stops eating. The family falls apart. But Jamie hasn't cried in all that time. To him Rose is just a distant memory. Jamie is far more interested in his cat, Roger, his birthday Spiderman T-shirt, and in keeping his new friend Sunya a secret from his dad.
And in his deep longing and unshakeable belief that his Mum will come back to the family she walked out on months ago. When he sees a TV advert for a talent show, he feels certain that this will change everything and bring them all back together once and for all.
This is one of those books that after you read it you will take something from it and remember it for as long as you live and for so many different reasons. This is more than just a family coping with a heart-rending tragedy and loss but also a journey for a ten-year-old boy as he tries to make sense of things after his sister's death.
At first, I was a little unsure of reading from such a young child's point of view but as with all children whether fictional or real, I found him endearingly and sometimes brutally honest and, unlike adults, it's the truth that comes to the front rather than the comforting lies you would get from an adult in the same situation.
I had huge respect for a ten-year-old who, in the end, made his own decisions on who to be friends with, after struggling with his dad's very open racism following Rose's death, and I really felt for Jamie who spent a good amount of his time confused thanks to his father. I couldn't help but feel that throughout this book it was Jamie and Jasmine who were the glue in the family, never once deserting each other and getting along with things despite their dad.
On the character front, I didn't like Jamie's mum much at all, she just didn't seem to want to spend that much time with her kids and as for Jamie's father, I found it really infuriating that he kept bringing up Rose in front of Jasmine, no wonder she wanted to be so different and stand out. There were times I wanted to reach into this story and give both parents a good shake to wake them up. However, I do feel that there may have been a point to this as it made the ending all that more meaningful.
Sunya was another favourite of mine and I loved her friendship with Jamie even if it did hit several rocky patches; there was a lot to be learned about racism, acceptance and friendship from those too, a lesson I think some adults could do with reading about as well as children.
Overall, this was a fantastic book with some rather funny and touching moments and I sobbed my heart out during the chapters following the talent show, I couldn't help it; it was so moving, sad and yet ultimately uplifting in a way I can't possibly describe to you. It's just something you simply have to read for yourself.