When someone recommends a book to me, I am always thrilled to add it to my ‘to be read’ pile. However, that pile has now become a whole bookcase because I have big ambitions and too little time. My daughter, Juliet, enjoys a lot of books and will often tell me I have to read a book she has just enjoyed, but again I don’t always have the capacity for all her recommendations. However, it is a huge privilege when someone shares a book recommendation because that tells me the person wants to share their love for a book with me, to discuss it and to join in a special part of their book world. This is especially true if your teenage daughter recommends a book to you! Juliet is growing up and less dependent on me, so it is very special to have something we have shared and enjoyed and books are the perfect way to do this.
We were lucky enough to get an advance copy of Paper Avalanche by Lisa Williamson (David Fickling Books). Juliet read it first and then I. We wrote these reviews independently and had them edited together by our favourite editor (Michael).
Ro is a 14 year old girl with divorced, uninterested parents and a mother who has a very serious hoarding problem. Not the jokey kind of problem, but the serious absolute mess and addictive personality type of problem. Ro is so embarrassed by her mother and her ‘home’ that she pretends she lives at a different house. She spends her life trying to stay off people’s radar, to be unnoticed and to keep attention away from herself and her tragic situation.
There are two reasons why I loved this book as a reader. Firstly, I could really relate to this lonely 14-year-old girl who hid in classrooms or toilets to have her lunch so that she didn’t have to endure social awkwardness. I also loved this book because I had forgotten how isolating it can be to be a teenager, especially if you have a different family situation. It can be automatic to think teenagers are simply sulking in a corner and not consider why they may be feeling that way or question if there is something else underpinning their mood.
This was a terrific book which I am sure will appeal to many people of all ages, but perhaps most of all to those of us that did, or still do, feel anxious.
What often makes a book special, is not always the riveting plotline, the detailed descriptions or the flowery language, but instead the characters and their relations with each other. Memorable characters make a memorable story and that’s what Paper Avalanche does. What I loved about Paper Avalanche is you get to see all the different relationships that Ro (the protagonist) has fully fleshed out instead of the YA stereotype of the novel centring around the romance of the book. Not only do we get a romance, but we also see a heart-warming friendship develop, and a complex, difficult, yet nevertheless strong mother-daughter bond. This book talks about the serious issue of hoarding with warmth and care, yet also humour and also often tragic moments, with loveable characters that will make you want to hug the book when you’re done.
Paper Avalanche by Lisa Williamson was published on 3rdJanuary 2019 and is available from Little English Bookworm at book fairs or by contacting us.