Tuesday 4 December 2012

339. The Twice-Lived Summer of Bluebell Jones by Susie Day

The Twice-Lived Summer of Bluebell Jones by Susie Day
Published December 2012 Scholastic

From the publisher:
On her thirteenth birthday, Blue makes a desperate wish. To be transformed into a cool, confident teenager. Enter Red, appearing from nowhere like a wacky fairy godmother. She's only visible to Blue-in fact, she is Blue, but a year older. With Red by her side to guide her, Blue can avoid all the gruesome embarrassments! But her future self causes a heap of crazy trouble-and there are dark secrets she's not telling...

I was almost tempted to not include this book, not because I didn’t like it, but because to say too much would spoil your reading of it.  There's a real OMG factor that I won't mention, but if you want to know the ‘spoiler’, email me, and I will tell you, but it a real spoiler in the sense that it may spoil how much you enjoy finding out for yourself.

Bluebell has just turned 13, she is teenager, and she had hoped that all of a sudden her whole life would change.  Funnily enough it doesn’t, she looks the same, and feels the same and she makes a wish that someone would come and rescue her.  So,   along comes Red, who is actually Blue aged 14, Red has actual boobs, cool boots and fire engine red hair.  She is a million miles away from the 13 year old Blue, and Blue finds it hard to believe that this is the person she becomes.

Blue is organized, conservative and quiet, her plans for the holidays involved spending time with her family seeing the Top 10 Things to See and Do in Penkerry (Wales). The first thing Red encourages Blue to do is to skip a planned family outing, and talk to a cool looking girl who works at the fairground, Fozzie. While the first meeting doesn’t go so well, Blue vomits on Fozzie’s boots, she works up the courage to go and see her at the cafĂ© where she works.  Here she meets the whole gang, Fozzie, Dan (who works at the doughnut stand), Merlin (who has a knack for card tricks) and Fozzie’s sister Mags.  This act of bravery on Blue’s part see’s her setting herself up for a summer of fun and adventures.  Without Red, she would never have had the courage to put herself out there and actively make new friends.

What this story is really about is the simple act of growing up, which is of course far from simple.  It’s about realizing there are something’s we can’t change, like our family, and things we can, like ourselves.  It shows that although there was nothing actually wrong with Blue,  there was so many things she wanted to do, but was always too scared to try.  With the help of Red, she steps out of her comfort zone and puts herself out into the world.  Like with the vomiting on Fozzie’s feet, things might not always go well, but meeting a boy that she really likes and realising she has a flair for photography, the risks of embarrassment and failure are outweighed by the rewards.

Throughout the story the relationship between Blue and Red is very up and down.  At times Blue is grateful that she is there, but a lot of the time she feels Red is getting in the way, and doesn’t really give her that much help, in fact there are times she doesn’t tell blue things that she really should have warned her about.  As well as figuring herself out, Blue is also trying to find her place in her own family.  Blue's Mum is about to have a new baby, Blue will have to share a room with her older sister Tiger Lily, that's not so bad, but it's the selfish feelings she has that sometimes wish the baby wasn't coming at all because it will change everything.

This book has a lot going for it, it's girly enough to encourage reluctant female readers, but there's also a lot to think about.  The paths we chose to take in our lives are not set in stone, we have choices, and even though we may think we're going to end up in one place, as one kind of person, that may not happen at all.

Who will like this book: Girls age 12+
Read it if you like: Cathy Cassidy

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