Heart-shaped by Siobhan Parkinson
|Heart-shaped by Siobhan Parkinson|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Engaging, honest, heart-breaking, truthful story of a girl coming to terms with bereavement, which she must do if she's to make the transition from child to adolescent. Parkinson has given us a unforgettable voice in Annie. Highly recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 208||Date: August 2013|
|External links: Author's website|
Ok. Before I even start reviewing, I need to explain just how much I loved this book. It's the companion to an earlier story from Siobhan Parkinson, Bruised, over the same timeframe, and following a supporting character whose story is intimately connected. Before I'd read to the end of the first chapter of Heart-shaped, which is all of two-and-a-half pages long, I'd fallen in love with Annie. And I knew I couldn't bear to read her story without reading Jono's, in Bruised, first. So I rushed orff to Amazon and downloaded it to my Kindle. You might not find that particularly surprising, but it is. I review books. I hardly ever buy books because I have a pile of advance copies shouting My turn! My turn! whenever I look their way.
So, you know. I'm jus' sayin'. Heart-shaped is that good. And it's probably best you read Bruised first. To the review.
It all starts when Annie makes an horrific discovery. During the aftermath, she finds her boyfriend Jono has gone missing, taking his little sister with him. At school, Annie is having trouble fighting off the unwelcome attentions of the local bully and wannabe Lothario. Annie needs a mum to talk to but she hasn't got one. She's only got a dad and while he's a good dad, for sure, he isn't all that great at this girly stuff. Plus, there are places he might want to take a conversation - places Annie just does not want to go. So, instead, Annie talks to Dr Thing, the head honcho (pun intended), her friend Emma (who has an inimitable but not necessarily dependable take on life) and to herself.
And, at fourteen and a bit mixed up, Annie isn't the most reliable narrator. We can see that her story is intimately connected to Jono's but it takes a while to realise how and why. And we can see that it's also about Annie's mother but this also takes a while to realise how and why. The heartbreaker in it all is that Annie herself takes a longer while to see the how and the why. She has a true and sincere voice, this sad, confused little girl, and she makes you love her. She's having to learn some of life's hardest lessons much too early. But through it all, she's brave and funny and original.
Parkinson tells this story with a great deal of deadpan humour. You have to laugh, you see, otherwise you'd cry. But even sad stories can be uplifting and Heart-shaped is uplifting. It's all about the nitty gritty of life and that old truism - if you don't know sadness, how will you recognise joy when it comes along? And she's peopled it with a wonderful supporting cast from the wisecracking Lulu Fortycoats (who is actually funnier for being beyond the grave) through eccentric Emma to the glorious awful Keith Butler, school bully.
Seriously. I loved, loved, loved this book. And I can't recommend it highly enough.
You can read more book reviews or buy Heart-shaped by Siobhan Parkinson at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Heart-shaped by Siobhan Parkinson at Amazon.com.
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