Tony’s Review: Trouble, Non Pratt



Hannah is a wild fifteen year old, who loves nothing more than drinking parties, socialising with her friends and not caring too much about school. Then she gets pregnant.

I hadn’t heard much about this book before Becky’s enthusiastic and passionate review here. I follow every one of her reviews, and she very rarely rates a book five stars…and certainly never reads a book in two days. This was one I had to see for myself…and I’m glad I did.

I was expecting some social lecture about the perils of pregnancy, and some moral lessons about underage sex (age of consent in the UK is sixteen), but there was little of that. In fact, the book isn’t really about Hannah’s pregnancy as much as it about the social changes it causes around her.

I won’t reveal the spoiler of who the father is (I did work it out fairly quickly though), and why Hannah doesn’t go to him is revealed over the course of the book and makes a major plot point.

This brings in the other main character: Aaron. Aaron is the new boy in school, emerging from some trauma he can’t deal with. He views the eddies and streams of friendships and enemies with an indifferent eye, new to all and in some ways immune.

But when Hannah needs a father, he volunteers himself to be branded as the dad. Why he does it links back to his trauma…which is another spoiler I can’t reveal.

The short punchy chapters alternate between Hannah and Aaron, and since they have very different narrative voices, it works very well. Hannah’s sister receives a pet rabbit called Fiver for instance: Aaron would have recognised the Watership Down reference, but Hannah thinks it’s how much it cost. Their outlooks and expectations were very different. No doubt that we were dealing with two different people at any point.

Minor characters were given lots of room and backstory as well. Neville, a pensioner Aaron visits, is a great character full of wit and wisdom, as is Hannah’s gran. Nobody felt two dimensional.

There were points when the plot veered into kitchen-sink soap opera, but they were isolated. Pratt does a great job of pulling at your heart and then tickling it with her emotive writing within a paragraph or two.

This is a book about the strength of family and the power of good friends; a book about finding out who those friends are and who you can count on when you need them.

In the end, it’s a happy and uplifting story, a potent and positive spin on a subject usually given more dour treatment.

Just Finished…Jake by Michael Cargill


It’s a 4.5* for me.

Michael Cargill ‘gets’ people – now I’m not sure whether he gets everyone, or that he writes about people whose brains work very like mine, but with each book of his I’ve read (Jake being the third), regardless of the plot or setting, it is the characters and their realistic behaviour that stands out for me. Jake is the same, and perhaps the most realistic and relatable of all Cargill’s characters I’ve met so far.

For much of the book you follow Jake through his daily teenage life: daft ‘boy’ antics, school and home life, rolling along. Within the first few pages I was transported straight back to high school – from the noises and sounds, to the familiar mad behaviour of the lads in class (although, seeing it from Jake’s point of view it makes a lot more sense now!) As YA books go, it was very ‘real’ – with no random appearances by vampires, angels or other common supernatural types – and I found myself quite happy reading about the intricacies of Jake’s life.

His first romance is really cute – to the point some scenes had me smiling to myself at the clumsy sweetness, and I loved the development of Jake’s relationship with his little brother, and the way he began to see his mother differently through observing her parenting the new addition to the family.

Overall, Jake is a really well-observed book, Cargill writes great characters and works with the smallest of details to give realism to his writing – as I’m not in to giving away spoilers there is little more I can say about the book without ruining it, but definitely worth a read if you like normal books about normal people.

IAM…Indie Author Month 2013 is here!

Hello and welcome to our second Indie Author Month!

A bit of a change from last year, we have a whole variety of posts coming throughout May from all types of YA Indie Authors – from interviews and book features, to excerpts and creative writing pieces – you won’t want to miss a day! 🙂

Best of all – is the return of the HUGE book giveaway, where our featured authors ‘gift’ one or more of their books to a lucky reader. So, check back with us regularly to meet some new authors, find out about their books and possibly win yourself a huge stash of lovely books to set yourself up for summer!

Mel x

Guest Post…Diversity in the YA World

Today’s guest post comes from Ebony who blogs at The Hundred Book Project. It was originally featured on her blog on April 30th 2012 and she’s kindly allowed us to re-blog it here for you to see. Hope you find it as interesting as we did – if you’d like to hear more from Ebony, you can check out The Hundred Book Project here. Now – on to the post!
Last month I reviewed a young adult contemporary fiction novel called Gone, Gone, Gone by Hannah Moskowitz.
I had a bit of a moment whilst reading that book, and it prompted me to write this post.
Inconspicuously slipped in, as one main character recalled another, was this line:

“His hair might not be golden blond – he’s black, so that would be a little weird – but his eyes kind of are.”

I did a double take.
It is honestly that rare to find a black protagonist in young adult literature that I had to make sure I had read correctly.
The book goes on to detail the tribulations of the budding relationship between the two characters. Did I mention that they are both guys?
That’s right; a gay, interracial teen romance.
And more amazing still, the issues that they struggle with don’t depend on their race, or even necessarily their sexuality. Those things are just a part of who they are, and beyond that they have the same problems ‘traditional’ couples experience: emotional vulnerability, family trauma, social/political issues, etc.
So, why don’t we have that kind of awesome diversity across the board in YA lit?
Teen readers are at a time when they start to form strong values and ideas. When better to acquaint them with the ideas of acceptance and moral courage – not to mention introduce them to other cultures and lifestyles? And that better way than to write life-like, relatable characters who just happen to be of assorted cultural heritage and orientation? Why do so many authors shy away from presenting the world as it is – and in a positive way, for once?
I can only guess.
Perhaps authors rush to create characters that their supposed audience will relate to. If the audience is considered to be made up of white, upper-middle class fifteen year old girls, then the prevalence of characters mirroring that stereotype is understandable.
understand it, but I don’t accept it.
In a majority of the YA books I’ve read, there are pitifully few ethnic or gay characters, let alone protagonists. It has got to stop.
Just like glorifying abuse is bad for real-world victims, when readers are shown Black or Asian characters who are mere bit players in the lives of the white protagonists (or my pet peeve, the ‘gay best-friend’ stereotype), it only serves to bolster the ridiculous idea that those societal groups are of less value. That their hopes and dreams and desires are inferior to their white counterparts’.
Why, why, why are authors not concerned with including a cast of characters which accurately represent racial and sexual diversity in the world?

I’ve thought about this question and decided it is not a conscious effort to cut certain social groups out of literature (that would be too horrible to comprehend), but rather a kind of laziness.

For white authors, I suppose it seems more difficult to write from the frame of mind of someone of a different culture, religion or orientation than oneself. But it is a worthy effort to include at least some diversity in your novel.
I don’t think there is any valid excuse for arbitrarily excluding diversity in novels, particularly those aimed at a vulnerable audience.
I can only imagine how it must feel to be a lover of young adult fiction, yet open an otherwise enjoyable book and find no central character whose ethnicity of orientation you can identify with.