Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur

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Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur

Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Ceri Padley
Reviewed by Ceri Padley
Summary: Love Aubrey is the stunning debut novel of Suzanne LaFleur. It'll make you laugh, cry, and truly think about what it means to grow up.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: June 2009
Publisher: Puffin
ISBN: 978-0141326870

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Aubrey is all on her own. For days she's been watching TV and feasting on cheese and crackers with no-one to tell her any different. She's actually quite enjoying it. The problem is, though, that Aubrey is eleven, and no-one knows she's alone.

So begins Suzanne LaFleur's story about one little girl's journey through grief, isolation, disappointment, and loss. The tale of how Aubrey struggles with the most complex 'adult' emotions is both heartbreaking and touching. She discovers what it's like when the loved ones we take for granted turn their back on us. With the love and strength of her grandmother and the unconditional friendship of her new neighbour Bridget, Aubrey takes baby steps to rediscovering how to open her heart once again.

LaFleur's children's novel poses a simple question: are you ever too young to find out about how bad the world can be? Childhood is expected to be a time of careless play filled with laughter, sunshine, and good memories. Then there's that age in young adulthood where men and women experience their first heartbreak, their first betrayal, make real enemies and secure friendships that will stand the test of time. What happens when these two worlds get mixed up?

Aubrey's story is told through first person narrative, a technique which helps us get right underneath the skin of this young girl's problems. She is only eleven and confused about how she feels. She's prone to mood swings, is plagued with flashbacks about her family, and isn't quite mature enough to know how to cope with the emotions thrown at her.

Children will love this book as LaFleur's narrative perfectly describes the feelings of a young pre-teen entering that confusing stage of life, with some added baggage on the side. Aubrey is a heroine for all young people who are thrust into the adult world too soon. She is straddling the line between childhood and adulthood: while her grandmother beckons her to move forward to the future, she clings to the memories of her little sister, Savannah, by writing letters to the imaginary friend that once dominated their young lives.

I really do urge you to buy this for your children as it is a sweet and heartfelt tale that will serve as a great companion to the frustrations and perplexities of having to grow up.

On the other hand, I'd also urge adults to read it too. The style many children's writers have seems to hold the naivety in children's tones that adult readers are drawn to: Aubrey doesn't understand what's happened but, as adults, we have the maturity and life experience to take ourselves out of our young protagonist's mind and recognise what is happening in her world from a 'grown-up's' point of view.

I found myself wanting to take Aubrey into my arms, cradle her, and tell her everything was going to be alright. Most of us will have grieved over the loss of a loved one at one point or another, and will have found the strength to continue with the help and love of our friends and family. Aubrey is coping with loss on her own and that, as a result, gives us the immediate parental instinct to care for her.

As I've said before, it is LaFleur's innocent style of writing that saves this story from becoming a fictional copy of many of the 'misery memoirs' that dominate bookshelves these days. Her words aren't laden with woeful descriptions of bereavement and self-pity because they are told through the eyes of a child. Her story is filled with innocent excursions of school lessons, sleepovers, and rambles through the local forest – everything that a childhood should have. The only difference is that deep in the back of Aubrey's mind, she is still trying to find the answers to life's puzzles, without the help of her parents.

Love, Aubrey is reminiscent at times of John Boyne's now famous children's novel, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. While each book deals with different subject matters in a very different time and place, both 'grown-up' stories are told through the eyes of a naive child. Young readers will discover secrets and solutions alongside the main characters, while adult readers will already have guessed what has happened in the adult world outside of the children's minds and await the moment of realisation.

Thank you so much to the Book Bag for sending this to me to review. I really enjoyed it and deeply recommend it for a light and moving read.

Buy Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur at Amazon.com.


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