Come back tomorrow to find out who inspired Jory, the accident-prone protagonist, from My Big Nose And Other Natural Disasters by Sydney Salter!
On the happy occasion of Read This Book’s anniversary, I wanted to write about a teen book which has made a lasting impression on me. It’s a book that uses unexplained fantasy elements in a contemporary, realistic plot – a device I love, and one I have used myself in a couple of my novels. It’s an inspiring, funny and all-round excellent read.
It’s Fly on the Wall by E. Lockhart.
There’s a lot packed into this short, inventive, surreal tale of a girl who wakes up in the body of a fly. Gretchen Yee is a girl who feels too ordinary for her surroundings at a school where everyone is super-talented. Gretchen too has talent, but it seems to be the wrong sort. In fact, everything about her seems to be all wrong. She wishes she could stop being a spineless girl who is confused about her parents’ imminent divorce and is too afraid to act on her crush. She wishes she could find out more about all the things (and people) she doesn’t understand. And then she wakes up in the body of a fly on the wall in the boys’ locker room and she ‘sees everything’, as the tagline of the book says. This is true both literally and metaphorically. Not only does she get to see exactly what’s under the boys’ clothes, but also what’s really going on in their lives.
This book has stayed with me because it’s simple, entertaining and thought-provoking. It also stands up to multiple readings. There’s the beautifully creative use of language – the not-quite-familiar terms that you instantly absorb and understand as you read, like ‘gherkins’ , ‘biscuits’ and ‘milkshake’; words that fit their purpose perfectly. Then there are the gently addressed issues which are close to my heart: the casual homophobia that high school students can display; the kids who are coping with bullying; Gretchen’s feminist awakening. Throughout all this, there are wonderful references to Kafka and comic book superheroes. And lastly there’s a gorgeous love interest, whom you can’t help but see through Gretchen’s admiring eyes. For me, this book is utterly fantastic in every sense of the word, and I loved it.
Happy anniversary, Kate, and many happy returns to your great book blog!