Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Leopold Blue - Rosie Rowell - Guest Book Review

Published by Hot Key Books

Guest review by Susan Maclean

I do like books aimed at Young Adults (which I hope this was), but I am not sure that it’s supposed audience will make it a best seller.  It’s well written, the descriptions of the area of South Africa where the book is set are good enough for you to “see” what it’s like, and none of the characters are two dimensional.  

But. I couldn’t empathise much with Meg who is 15, full of hormones, and really does not fit in at school in her little township.  Her mother Vivvy, English, married for love and now stuck in the middle of a rural and changing SA,  has views about politics which don’t sit well with Meg, and her class-mates’ parents.  She is also on a campaign to inform black farm workers about AIDs, which was rife at the time Mandela came to power when this book is set.  Meg cannot understand why her mother would be out on the farms every Sunday, telling workers about condoms, bodily fluids and the like when she should be home with her family. Meg’s Mum cannot understand why Meg feels this way, and why Meg's so angry with her.

Into Meg’s life comes  Zanthe, who sits next to her at school, and whom the headmistress wants Meg to take under her wing.  Zanthe, with cat’s eyes.  Zanthe, who doesn’t give a stuff about anyone.  Zanthe, who surely dyes her hair black as her eyes are blue.  Zanthe, who wants to be naughty.  Zanthe, who takes to calling Meg, “Madge”.

If you are a teen, you will probably know exactly how Meg feels.  And if you are a teen, you will certainly know how it feels to be embarrassed by your parents, how that first crush feels, how no-one understands you. But I am not so sure you will put this book in the “best I have ever read category”.  You may find, as I did, that it is rather slow, and that you expected the bad things to be bigger and more shocking than they were. 

Many thanks to Susan for reading and reviewing this novel for The Little Reader Library. Susan blogs at Mac-Adventures (with Books!)

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