Everything I Know About You by Belinda Hollyer

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Everything I Know About You by Belinda Hollyer

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: A lovely kitchen sink drama about bereaved children with a little bit of mystery on the side. Easy to read with sympathetic themes and a supportive attitude.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 176 Date: July 2008
Publisher: Orchard
ISBN: 1846167663

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Eric can be a handful. He tells stories sometimes and does have an unusually vivid fantasy life. He's not quite hyperactive, but he does have ants in his pants and his obsessions are really, really obsessive. All in all, Eric takes up a lot of time and attention. But Lizzie and her father don't really mind. It's been difficult for all of them to deal with the death of Lizzie's mother, but at least Lizzie and her father have memories to cherish. Eric was only two when she died, so he doesn't remember much at all and what he doesn't remember, he makes up. It's understandable.

So when Eric goes on a school trip to the Natural History Museum and returns convinced that he's seen their mother working in the gift shop, Lizzie's first impulse is to put it down to one of her little brother's stories. But there's a nagging doubt. What if Eric is right? There is a mystery at the heart of Lizzie's family and if it concerns her mother, Lizzie is determined to get to the bottom of it.

I loved this little book. What strikes you most about Lizzie's family is how hard they're all trying. Dad is struggling as a single parent, and he worries all the time, but he's doing his best to shield both his children while they grow to maturity. Lizzie is bereft without her mother, but she's desperate to protect and humour Eric and determined not to let her father down. Bex, the au-pair, has a genuine interest in both children and she goes above and beyond the call of duty on almost every page. Even Eric tries his best to be good.

But secrets are never good, and the ultimate thrust of this book is to always be honest and open. At first, you see Eric's spontaneity and honesty as perhaps hallmarks of a slightly spoiled child, but by the end of the book, having seen the problems Lizzie and her father cause themselves by keeping secrets, you're beginning to think about changing your mind.

Hollyer is spot on with her family dynamics, but she doesn't batter the reader with homilies. This is an optimistic story about learning to move with grief, and it saves itself from mawkishness with the very honesty it's recommending. For all its highs and lows, family life does come with a good dollop of situational humour attached and Lizzie and Eric's search for their mother has plenty of it to add to the pathos.

Great stuff.

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

If they enjoyed Everything I Know About You, they might also like Vicky Angel by Jacqueline Wilson which deals with a little girl's grief after her best friend dies or Hurricane Wills by Sally Grindley, which is all about a tiring brother causing family problems.

Buy Everything I Know About You by Belinda Hollyer at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Everything I Know About You by Belinda Hollyer at Amazon.co.uk.

Buy Everything I Know About You by Belinda Hollyer at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Everything I Know About You by Belinda Hollyer at Amazon.com.


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