Read Me Like A Book by Liz Kessler
|Read Me Like A Book by Liz Kessler|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Ash is under a lot of pressure. Her parents aren't getting on, she's struggling with school grades and worrying about boyfriends. And bubbling under this is a brand new identity trying to get out. This is a sensitive and illuminating story of coming out. We loved it.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 304||Date: May 2015|
|External links: Author's website|
Read Me Like A Book is both a coming-of-age and a coming-out story.
Ash feels as though everything is a mess. Her parents aren't getting on and Ash is terrified they're going to split up. She's struggling to keep up her relationships with her friends. She trying to decide whether or not to lose her virginity - and how exactly she even feels about the boy she might lose it with. She's falling behind in her grades at school and half of her is a rebellious teen who couldn't care less about it, while the other half is panicking that she might not get into university.
And if all that wasn't enough, Ash is struck by a bolt from the blue when she develops an almighty crush on Miss Murray, her English teacher...
... and this crush is going to prove to be the catalyst that begins great changes in Ash's life.
Liz Kessler is a phenomenally successful author for middle grade readers and Read Me Like A Book is her YA debut. And yet, it is actually the first novel she wrote. It wasn't published then, fifteen years ago, because it's the coming out story of a young gay woman and it was deemed unpublishable in those days before the infamous Section 28 had been repealed. As someone who spent a lot of time campaigning against the introduction of that accursed legislation, reading the press sheet telling me this actually made me cry. Then it made me have an impotent shout at the sky at the thought of young people being prevented from reading stories about themselves. THIS IS WHAT WE WERE SAYING AT THE TIME! ARGH! But then I smiled. Because we have come a long way since then and Read Me Like A Book shows that we have.
But Ash's story will resonate with all teenagers. It covers straight dating, losing your virginity, watching your parents break up, your studies suffering because you want to be too cool for school, falling out with your best friend and all the other issues that are front and centre in teen life.
Ash develops a great deal over the course of the novel. She starts out in a messy situation at both home and isn't dealing with it at all well. But she gains in maturity as the story goes on and this enables her not just to cope but to blossom into her true self. The coming-out aspect is wonderfully drawn. It takes Ash a long time to realise that she isn't straight. But once she does, she realises this is the person she was all along. Kessler explores all Ash's various feelings along the way and I think it will be as illuminating to the straight reader as it will be familiar to the gay reader.
Honestly. I loved this story.
We do need more diverse books. Here are some. My Side Of The Story by Will Davis is a black comedy about a boy's coming out. Alex As Well by Alyssa Brugman is the story of Alex, a transgendered Australian teen. Losing It by Keith Gray is a very diverse anthology of short stories about virginity.
You can read more book reviews or buy Read Me Like A Book by Liz Kessler at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Read Me Like A Book by Liz Kessler at Amazon.com.
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