==Synopsis of the book:==
Lola Jordan is 14 years old and has lived all that time in the quiet seaside town of Staitheley in Norfolk. It is such a small place everyone knows everyone and secrets are few and far between. She enjoys spending time with her best friend Nell but has started to notice the only boy near her age Josh, who at 17 is just finishing his studies at school.
However change is on the horizon and it is very dramatic for Lola. Her Mum and Dad are separating and Lola will go to London with her Mother to live. This will involve leaving her beloved home, family and friends. She is unhappy at this prospect especially as the school she will now attend in huge in comparison to what she is used to. She is now a very small fish in a large pond. However her mother in trying to make Lola feel happier in their new home and is spoiling her with gifts and presents. Lola keeps in touch with Nell most evenings by phone as she tries to settle in, blend in and remain anonymous in her new surroundings.
==My thoughts on this novel:==
I found this both an interesting and enjoyable piece of fiction. Although I am sure this story would appeal more to teenagers as it deal with many of the issues they face as they are growing up. Indeed while I was reading it I did question whether I was the target audience and if I should be reading this kind of book. But I did enjoy it and enjoyed seeing what is what like to be a teenagers through Lola eyes as the world she knew dramatically changed and she had to change with it.
This book was a gift from a friend at work who had already read and enjoyed it. She knew that I had read a couple of books by Raffaella Barker and wanted to know my opinion of this one. This author has written eight novels in total so far and before reading this one I would have described her as a Chic Lit novelist. But having read this one it is clear she cannot be categorised purely as this as I would describe this story as teenage fiction if such a classification exists. What always impresses me about her work is she writes about what she knows i.e. Norfolk as he was brought up there and has now returned there. This clearly comes through in her excellent descriptions of the land that shows how much she loves the area.
What immediately struck me about this book was its very unusual title. I must admit I did not know what it meant so I looked it up on the internet as I could not see the point in reading a book what you did not understand what it meant. Having done this I checked out the summary as I was always do. As I think a good summary sells and sets the tone for the story. Now having read the book I feel the author gave far too much of the story away in this summary. I think she would have been far better advised explaining the background to Lila's move from Norfolk to London. Instead she seemed to want to explain why she selected this title for the book as early as possible. As it was it was a summary that sounded interesting if a little on the short side.
Before the story starts you are introduced to Staitheley in the form of a simple map that highlights in a very clear and simple way the main features of the area. For me it was a bit of a waste as after initially looking at it I did not have to refer back to it and I did not feel it helped me understand the place. Maybe that is a compliment to the authors excellent descriptions that meant I did not feel I needed to as I never felt lost or confused in the place. And if I am honest it is not something I would expect in an adult piece of fiction, this additionally made me think this was a feature that was added to appeal to the teenage market.
When the story began I found it very easy to get into. The print seemed slightly larger than I was used to and I immediately found Lola's life in Norfolk interesting. The community she lives in was different to what I am used to and the author had introduced several characters that were good and ones I wanted to know more about. Even at this early stage you could she that Lola's Mum and Dad were not getting on but at the time she was either used to it or oblivious to it. So when the big change happened it was a real shock to her.
As a result of this change in Lola's life I found all her new experiences indeered me to her. I found I felt for her and I understood her sadness for everything she had left behind in Norfolk. This concept of her two lives was a good one especially as Lola wanted to visit her old home whenever she could and to keep the two parts her of life totally separate from each other. I enjoyed learning about her experiences in this new big school and I felt for her trying to make new friends when the other classmates had known each other for years.
And while I enjoyed these experiences I think the author could very easily have added to the story be introducing an additional concept or two to her new experiences at school. As I know how hard it can be in new surroundings and children can be especially hard on anyone new or different from them especially young teenagers who are dealing for the first time with changing hormones and changes to their bodies. However that did not stop me enjoying what was happening and I got the real sense that the author knew and understand what it was like to be new in this setting.
The direction of the story was good and I liked the fact her school project led to a school field trip to her old home. I would not have shared this information normally as it is the key feature to the story but because it is mentioned in the summary I feel it is ok to now!! This was great for me because it meant Lola could not longer keep her two worlds separate and she would have to think and do different things to stop more interaction with them.
Any criticism I have with this story would involve the length of it. For me it was far too short and the author could and should have expanded her ideas. That is because she did have some wonderful ideas and I would have liked a longer field trip with more action within it. However I certainly would not criticise the last few chapters of the story. This was very fast paced and exciting it was an excellent ending and it had me on the edge of my seat. For me one of the better finishes to a story that I have enjoyed in the past few months.
The author even had an epilogue at the end of the story. However while this was useful it was only a page and a half long, which again for me was far too short. I had many questions about what would happen next to Lola and all the characters in the story that were not addressed. For me this could have led onto a new story involving Lola but as this book was written in 2004 I think it is unlikely now. Which I think is sad because the author introduced the reader to a wonderful and very different lead character from the norm.
It was the quality of these characters that really made the story in many respects for me. Lola was a very good lead character and I enjoyed learning all about her old and new lives. The story was written from her viewpoint and I found her an endearing and very likeable young lady. I also enjoyed some of the support characters within the story I thought the little girl Sadie was entertaining as were some of the unusual characteristics and traits of some of Lola's friends and schoolmates.
I found this a quick and easy book to read. Although I did also this is the type of story you can take whatever you like from it. That is because it deals with a number of concepts that you as the reader can choose to think more about or let them ride over you. For me it made me consider what it would be like to be Lola with all the new challenges she faced. In some ways it reminded me of a type of novel that you could study at school because it was not only thought provoking but if you looked under the surface there was more than could be found and discussed.
I found this an enjoyable and interesting piece of fiction that in my opinion would appeal more to younger teenagers than adult readers. The reason for saying this is two fold, firstly the main characters are teenagers and secondly it deals with several concepts that would affect and appeal more to them. That said I would still recommend it to adults as a worthy read, the only draw back was it was on the short side and some one or two more ideas would have in my opinion expanded it nicely.
Year First Published: 2004
Thanks for reading my review.
This review is published on both Ciao and Dooyoo under my user name.
© CPTDANIELS October 2012.