Sunday 9 October 2011

Book ~ "Another Life Altogether" (2010) Elaine Beale

From Amazon ~ Jesse Bennett, the 13-year-old heroine of Beale's charming debut, longs to escape the humdrum life of Britain's East Yorkshire. Stuck in a small town with her unstable mother and ineffectual father, Jesse wants to see the world, but her hopes of breaking free are dashed when her mother attempts suicide and her father, reasoning that a change of scene will help his wife recover, moves the family farther into the country. But the people of rural Midham are less than welcoming to the strange new arrivals. Eventually, Jesse falls in with Tracey and Amanda, the toughest and most feared girls in town, though with this security comes increased scrutiny: Jesse must pretend to be just like her mates, and even though she cares nothing for clothes or boys and despises the meanness, she develops a crush on Amanda that threatens to end unfavorably. Beale's lively narrative captures, with touching accuracy, the plights of adolescence; if the novel sometimes veers toward the saccharine and relies on less than surprising plot twists, Jesse's affirming arc offers hope in a place where it's in very short supply.

I had a hard time getting into this book because it's so depressing. There's nothing good in Jesse's life ... she's 13 and it's set in the 1970s in England. It's Jesse's voice telling the story.

Her mother is either in bed for weeks not showering or eating or she's in a frenzy with some project (like fixing the garden or renovating the house).

Jesse's dad goes to work and spends his evenings tuning out the world by watching TV. It's up to Jesse to make sure that meals are made and there's some semblance of a life.

Her Auntie Mabel is marrying Frank, who is a jerk. Her dad's dad is caught up in the past and constantly reminiscing about his long dead son, Brian.

Jesse is in love with Amanda who is in love with Stan, a bully. She has to hide her feelings so she'll fit in and her schoolmates won't make fun of her.

Jesse would like to be friends with Malcolm but would be ridiculed because Malcolm is a "poof" and a "nancy boy".

Despite the downer of a storyline, I enjoyed the writing style and would read future novels by this author.

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