Tapas and Tears by Chris Higgins

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Tapas and Tears by Chris Higgins

Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Zoe Morris
Reviewed by Zoe Morris
Summary: Fun in the sun, or Tapas and Tears? Jaime doesn't know what to expect on her school exchange to Spain, and really isn't that keen on going full stop, but once she's there she has no choice but to deal with what the trip throws at her – good and bad – in this funny, engaging tale about the different people inside us all.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 272 Date: February 2010
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
ISBN: 978-0340970775

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It's tough being fourteen. You're old enough to be getting to grips with who you are and what you like, but other people – parents, friends, teachers – often seem to think they know better than you do about what's best. Jaime is on the shy side. She's not a huge fan of meeting new people, and she's never strayed far from her mum's side before, so a fortnight alone in Spain is the last thing she wants. But, a school exchange is exactly what she finds herself signing up for and before she knows it, she's bundled off for two long weeks – but will it all be fun in the sun, or, as the book's title seems to hint at, are Tapas and Tears on the horizon?

It's amazing what can happen in two short weeks, and Jaime soon finds herself well outside her comfort zone but, surprisingly, deals admirably with the various obstacles in her path. Just as she's starting to enjoy her stay, and realising the fortnight might not be All That Bad, though, things take a bit of a turn and the newly discovered Tira starts to clash with Concha, Jaime's somewhat fiery host. Words are said that aren't meant but can't be unsaid, and people begin to act in ways they really shouldn't. It's just as well the trip's almost over, the Brits can return home, and things can go back to normal. After all, what happens in Spain, stays in Spain…right?

Except…back home Jaime isn't safe either. Things have changed, her mum's acting differently, and it's not long before the group from Spain arrive on their exchange visit. Can she get through the next two weeks without all the secrets of that Spanish trip coming out, or is this just one horrible big mess Jaime will never be able to escape from?

This story captured my interest from the beginning and I was thrilled that it got better and better as I read. The author packs a great deal into this average-length teen book and every page had me wanting a little bit more. The characters in the story are superb: well fleshed out, with authentic voices for their age (and nationality). Jaime is clearly supposed to be a 'nice' girl, but she's balanced out by Tira, and Concha to some extent, and although there are subtle little digs at things like smoking, it's not in a preachy way. The incident with underage drinking was a great addition, I thought, since the characters were allowed to make their own mistakes, and learn from them, rather than being well behaved all the time and sporting a holier-than-thou attitude.

This is a light story but touches on some serious issues, especially about boy/girl and family relationships. In fact, it features a lot of topics readers will be familiar with – perhaps even dealing with personally at the time – and though it doesn't have all the answers, it provides a great starting point for some open and honest dialogue. It's an easy read but that doesn't mean it's fluffy – just that the proper, juicy themes are presented with a wonderful, flowing narrative that lets you lose yourself in the world of Jaime et al from the very start.

A bit more for the girls, I think readers in the first few years of big school will enjoy this one.

Thanks go to the publishers for sending us this book.

If you think this one sounds good, you might like Chris Higgins' other titles reviewed by the Bookbag. Older readers might like Kate Cann's offerings, which also include trips to the Continent and adventures aplenty.

Buy Tapas and Tears by Chris Higgins at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Tapas and Tears by Chris Higgins at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Tapas and Tears by Chris Higgins at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Tapas and Tears by Chris Higgins at Amazon.com.


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