Drawing with Light by Julia Green

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Drawing with Light by Julia Green

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Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Lyrical coming-of-age story that deals with first love and second families. Green perfectly captures a pivotal time in a young girl's life and shows a deep understanding of the adolescent psyche.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: March 2010
Publisher: Bloomsbury
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1408802732

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Emily doesn't remember her biological mother. She ran away with another man when Emily was just two. Now, her older sister Kat, her father, and her stepmother Cassy make up the family unit and Emily thinks it's just fine that way. She doesn't need a mother who didn't want her and has never even tried to get in touch. But then Kat goes off to university, her father buys a rundown house in the middle of nowhere and moves them into a caravan while it's being renovated, and Cassy gets pregnant.

Emily feels abandoned all over again, and suddenly long-lost mothers seem more important. Why did she leave? Why hasn't she been in touch? Does she ever think of the daughters she left behind? As she inches towards the answers to these questions, Emily begins a relationship with Seb. He's her first real boyfriend and she doesn't really know how to handle it. Over a winter of self-discovery, this shy, reticent girl takes her first steps towards womanhood.

I loved this book. It's beautifully written and full of the introspection of adolescence. Emily doesn't say much - she's reserved and quiet and undemonstrative. But on the inside she's full of feelings that she doesn't know quite what to do with. Her mind is busy with thoughts and worries and anxieties. These spring to the surface occasionally in flashes of temper that shock her father and Cassy and Seb because they haven't seen them coming at all - the build-up has been entirely internal. These outbursts are repeated in families up and down the land as outwardly sullen teenagers suddenly express pent up feelings they find it so difficult to articulate, and Green paints them perfectly.

Drawing with Light blends family issues and first love into a genuinely absorbing book, full of lyrical description and intensity. The way Green writes reminds me very much of Sarah Dessen - each choosing pivotal moments in an adolescent's life and writing about them with great emotional intensity, but where Dessen is quintessentially American, Green has an unmistakably English voice. Everything is beautifully observed and each reference - music, film - is perfectly chosen, chiming perfectly with what's going on. The result is an utterly absorbing novel in which the reader feels completely immersed in the central character. My heart swelled for Emily, edging her way towards maturity.

Lovely stuff, and it's highly recommended.

My thanks to the nice people at Bloomsbury for sending the book.

If they like Green's intensely romantic and introspective style, they'll also love anything by Sarah Dessen. The wonderful How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff is also sure to appeal.

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Buy Drawing with Light by Julia Green at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Drawing with Light by Julia Green at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Drawing with Light by Julia Green at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Drawing with Light by Julia Green at Amazon.com.


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