What's Up With Jody Barton? by Hayley Long

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What's Up With Jody Barton? by Hayley Long

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Linda Lawlor
Reviewed by Linda Lawlor
Summary: Twins Jody and Jolene are very close—but that's all in jeopardy when they both fall for the same guy. And from then on it's touch and go whether their differences or their similarities will win out.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 250 Date: May 2012
Publisher: Macmillan
ISBN: 9780330523028

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Jody and Jolene are very alike. They have brown hair and dimples, they're both left-handed and they have feet which makes them look, according to Jody, like long-toed mutants. But in lots of ways they are very, very distinct. In fact, despite the fact that they're twins, they were born on different days and are different ages (because of the leap year thing. Read the book if you don't believe it). And as for their taste in music, school subjects and pretty well everything else . . . poles apart. Useful, though, as they divvy up their homework according to preference!

They live in north-west London above a café called Chunky's Diner, which is run by their affectionate but somewhat quirky parents. Dad is football mad and insists on telling terrible jokes whatever the occasion, and Mum simply loves nipping out to top up her tan at the salon across the road. All this could be a real nuisance, but fortunately the four of them all get on really well together on the whole (besides, having a café downstairs means a Saturday job and decent pocket money is pretty well guaranteed. Plus, you don't even need to go outside in the cold or the rain to earn it). In fact, the main setting for this book is the family home, which is unusual as most authors dispose (violently or otherwise) of any adults as close to the opening page as they possibly can. Can't have wrinklies getting in the way of the action, after all. But while this book has plenty of plot it is primarily a book about relationships, and how these develop and change throughout the teenage years.

Don't be fooled: this book may have An Issue at its core (it isn't revealed until well into the book, which makes reviewing a real challenge) but it is also seriously funny. Brilliant drawings of everything from orange juice cartons to River Phoenix's head pepper the pages, and Jody, the narrator, has a tendency to use enormous fonts when stressed, or revert to maths equations and diagrams to explain things. Images are colourful and amusing (the twins are, for example, described as being as close as two freckles) and this is one of the enormous strengths of this book: indeed it goes a long way towards explaining why it has been shortlisted for the Costa Book of the Year Award 2012. The tone of the book and the language used are utterly authentic, revealing an author who has a good ear for what the young people around her (she's a teacher) think and talk about, as well as how they say it. Readers will immediately feel at home in these pages.

Read it if you're a teenager, because you'll quickly grow to like maths geek Jody and bubbly Jolene. Read it if you're an adult, because it will give you a clear and unflinching glimpse into the mind of the half-tamed young who inhabit or invade your home. But most of all, just read it if you enjoy a cracking good story with a bit of depth and some good laughs.

For more books by Hayley Long with that trademark humour and subtle exploration of troubling issues, try Lottie Biggs is (Not) Mad, Lottie Biggs is (Not) Desperate and Lottie Biggs is (Not) Tragic. Whatever Lottie is not, she's certainly very funny.

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Buy What's Up With Jody Barton? by Hayley Long at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy What's Up With Jody Barton? by Hayley Long at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy What's Up With Jody Barton? by Hayley Long at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy What's Up With Jody Barton? by Hayley Long at Amazon.com.


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Jim Dean said:

Great review of a book which I have to admit I haven't actually dared review myself because I couldn't work out how to do it without giving away The Issue - you did a brilliant job of it, though, Linda!