Allen & Unwin
Pub Date: June 2016
When Sophie was very young, around 4 or 5, she and her mother undertook a very hurried and confusing trip to Belgium. Sophie can clearly remember her mother tearing up their passports and stuffing them in a bin upon their arrival. Not too long after her dad also arrived and later her little brother was born. The family has now been living in Belgium for about ten years. And Sophie still has no idea at all about why they even left England especially since her parents really don’t seem to like it in their adopted country.
Now at fourteen her parents’ well intentioned but really stupid subterfuges begin to unravel and Sophie discovers secrets that she finds almost impossible to comprehend. Though in my opinion they could be far more shocking, for Sophie they are monumental although also revealing as she comes to accept her parents for who they really are.
Sophie tells her story in her own strange language where words are substituted e.g. mum/mambo, dad/don, name/noodle, bad/boiled. Perhaps – probably – I’m not clever enough to see the point of this actually. Towards the end her best friend suggests she write her story down to make better sense of it and to use code if she wants no one else to read it. However this is not code as such and of course it is readable, though difficult to read in a fluent way.
Hayley Long’s other novels have been hugely popular with teen girls and I will be encouraging some of my Secondary book club girls to read this and seek their opinions.
Certainly as this age group often struggle with their own identity there will be some resonance with readers.
Recommended for girls about 12 to 14.