Meet Stewart. He’s geeky, gifted and sees things a bit differently to most people. His mum has died and he misses her all the more now he and Dad have moved in with Ashley and her mum. Meet Ashley. She’s popular, cool and sees things very differently to her new family. Her dad has come out and moved out – but not far enough. And now she has to live with a freakazoid step-brother. Stewart can’t quite fit in at his new school, and Ashley can’t quite get used to her totally awkward home, which is now filled with some rather questionable decor. And things are about to get a whole lot more mixed up when these two very different people attract the attention of school hunk Jared…
Firstly, thank you so much to the lovely people at Andersen Press for sending me a copy of this book! I love getting book post.
The first thing I want to talk about with regards to this book is the characters. Stewart is an immediately likable character – clever, open-minded and positive, with an innocence which makes you want to look out for him. His relationship with his dad and the loss of his mom is sensitively addressed; his struggle to let go of his old house and the memories associated with it without losing his connection with his mom is touching.
Ashley, on the other hand, is initially not likable at all. She is one of the popular kids at school and doesn’t want anything to disrupt the image of her perfect life, especially not Stewart and his dad moving in. We soon realise that this is a front to cover up her insecurities about the new family arrangements and her worries about what her friends will think, which helped me warm to her a lot more as the book progresses. I enjoyed Ashley’s struggles with language and this was used as a clever device to erase the tension in scenes where she was being difficult or rude.
This book is an original look at the reality of the modern blended family and tackles a number of key issues faced by young people in this situation: from managing personal space to starting a new school, and learning to adjust to new siblings/parental figures.
It is incredibly well written with the narrative told from the perspectives of Stewart and Ashley who alternate between chapters. This works well as it allows Nielsen to show both of their opinions on the same events and helps us to understand both of their points of view whilst building the tension between them. The writing itself is very accomplished and easy to read and I flew through this book in a couple of hours.
There are moments to make you giggle and moments to make you swallow back tears of happiness is a desperate attempt not to cry on public transport!