In the Key of Code by Aimee Lucido

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In the Key of Code by Aimee Lucido

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Judy Davies
Reviewed by Judy Davies
Summary: An original and engaging story about a lonely new girl and her struggle to find friendship. Through the author's inventive mesh of music, coding, poetry, and narrative, this story uniquely conveys the desire to forge your own identity and find the place where you truly belong.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 416 Date: October 2019
Publisher: Walker Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1406389333

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Emmy is moving with her parents halfway across America, to follow her father's dreams of a big break in his music career. She leaves behind her friends and her school in Wisconsin, and moves to California, knowing only what she has heard in songs. Her struggle to settle into her new life, make friends and feel happy and confident again, is agonisingly told in a way we can all relate to. There are many new opportunities and setbacks, taking the reader on a rollercoaster of emotions, but it isn't until Emmy joins a coding class using computer language that she begins to feel she might have a chance to feel like she truly belongs.

This unique story tells of Emmy's desire to fit in by using a medley of poetry, musical references and coding language. We can all empathise with Emmy and her feelings of isolation and displacement. She watches her new situation from the distance, like a member of the audience at a play. We see her challenges and feel her struggles to be accepted. She is a strongly described character, very cleverly crafted because the book if not written in adjective-rich prose. It's almost the spaces between the lines of verse which tell the story.

Aimee Lucido has adopted a very unusual style for this novel. The structure is free verse, using relatively few words, but getting the story across through the imagery of music and a short, almost abbreviated, dialogue with the reader. However, I seemed to fill the blanks very easily and soon adapted to this new format. It was such a fast, page-turning read. I feel like I need to re-read it as I'm sure I missed many of the cleverly interwoven musical references. My only gripe would be having little to no background knowledge in computer coding, I found these aspects of the novel hard to follow and consequently felt like I was missing important bits of the story. This is definitely one for the younger generation who learn all about this in school!

This is an incredibly unique book and I am intrigued to read the sequel. The characters are strong, and the situation Emmy finds herself in is one we can all recognise and empathise with. I loved the way the story was mediated through musical language but think I would have to learn more about coding to fully appreciate the novel.

I would recommend this book to any young person with a passion for music or coding. Perfect for fans of The Crossover by Kwame Alexander.

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