Wednesday 22 February 2017

Book Club Picks #8 Margot & Me

When Fliss's mum decides to spend some time living on Fliss's grandmothers farm in South Wales, she is reluctant to go. Fliss's grandmother, Margot, is mean, and Fliss hates her. Fliss soon comes across Margot's diary, which she had kept during the war as an evacuee. Fliss decides to read the diary in an attempt to find something she can blackmail Margot with. However, she soon discovers a horrible and shocking truth.

 I was so excited when HotKeyBooks sent The Book Club Margot & Me for our January read! I adore Juno Dawson's work, and I was so happy to be one of the first people to receive it! The book follows Fliss, a fifteen year old girl who has been forced to leave her home in London to live with her grandmother on a farm in a small village in South Wales.

Fliss's mother is in remission from cancer, and tells Fliss she wants to recover in the countryside before returning to work. However, Fliss struggles with the move, missing her friends back home, and hating such a huge change. I loved that although Fliss was a likeable character overall, she was far from perfect. She was initially selfish and stuck up, thinking she was better than her fellow classmates because she was from London and knew what was fashionable. I loved that she was soon brought down to earth with the knowledge that she wasn't going to be popular, and that the two friends she did make were considered to be nerds.

The book is split between two stories, taking place in the same location in different time periods. The main narrative focuses on Fliss's present life, while we are also told Margot's story from 1941. I feel as if skipping between stories can often be confusing, but Juno has set this out perfectly, making it extremely clear who's narrative we are currently in. Although I was more interested in Margot's story than Fliss' I still adored seeing Fliss develop as a character.

One thing that I adored about this book was the setting. The book is set in South Wales, with a large portion of it being set in the 90's. I feel as if the majority of contemporary novels are set in the year that they were written, so this felt like a nice change, and with typical 90's themes being brought up, such as dial up internet and The Spice Girls, it all felt very nostalgic and made me miss the 90's. I was also extremely happy to discover that the book is set in Wales! I adored the Welsh characters, and as a Welsh person myself, I felt as if the way they spoke was extremely accurate! I also loved how a few Welsh words were thrown in. Juno has obviously done her research, and made the characters accurate and believable.

Something that made me cringe quite a bit was Fliss's crush on the school librarian. I think most of us are guilty for having a crush on a teacher at some point in our lives, but I found it uncomfortable that Fliss believed she had a chance of making it work. Teachers can get into serious trouble for having a relationship with a student that isn't a strictly student/teacher relationship, and Fliss clearly didn't realise what her actions could do. I loved that her friends tried to explain to her why she couldn't pursue a relationship, and was happy that things got sorted out instead of turning into a huge scandal.

My favourite part of the book has to be Margot's diary entries. I am a huge history nerd, and I adore reading fiction set during the World Wars. I adored young Margot, and some of the things she had to endure were heartbreaking and chilling. Juno has done a brilliant job of portraying Margot's emotions, and it is impossible to not sympathise with her. Margot is an extremely strong and brave character, and the diary entries give us a clear understanding of why Margot is now the way that she is.

There were some great plot twists towards the end of the book, and although they were heartbreaking, I was not expecting them at all! This book is very character driven, and I loved how there were some diverse characters in the form of Andrew, Reg and Danny. I adored Margot's reaction to discovering one of her friends was gay, as we all know homosexuality was a s crime during the 1940's, so I adored how Margot accepted her friend for who he was, and didn't treat him any different because of it. I also loved how Fliss mirrored her grandmothers actions when one of her classmates used a homophobic term towards her friend.

The book has some important but upsetting themes, such as racism, homophobia and dealing with the repercussions of life threatening illnesses, including cancer and HIV. It definitely does not have the traditional miraculous happy ending, but shows us that life has its ups and downs, and sometimes terrible things happen that you have no choice but to recover from. I loved how Fliss managed to create her own unconventional happy ending, and started her journey on moving forward. Juno Dawson has once again manged to captivate me , and remind me why she is one of my all time favourite authors!

Margot & Me is now available to purchase!

   | Amazon Book Depository 

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