Glitter by Kate Maryon

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Glitter by Kate Maryon

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Linda Lawlor
Reviewed by Linda Lawlor
Summary: Liberty has to deal with a drastic change of lifestyle when her father loses everything in the credit crunch. The struggle to keep her dreams alive in the face of his depression is almost more than she can cope with.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: September 2010
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books
ISBN: 978-0007326280

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You'd think, seeing Liberty Parfitt's life from the outside, that she'd be blissfully happy. She has everything money can buy, she loves life at her expensive boarding school and she has a wonderfully close friend. But she is not content. Her academic grades are not good, and her father clearly prefers her hard-working and successful older brother Sebastian, who is at the same school. He wins all manner of prizes, but the only area in which she shows any talent is music, a subject her father will not allow her to study. Her mother died when she was only nine months old, and Liberty imagines her life would be very different if she had a loving mother to balance her father's criticisms. And then utter disaster: the family loses every penny they own, she is whisked away from school without warning and taken to a dreary little flat where she has to cope not only with her own sadness and sense of loss but also with a father sinking deeper and deeper into depression.

Liberty is timid and unhappy in the face of her father's disapproval: he has a volatile temper and no idea how to help her cope with her changed circumstances. She can barely get him to eat at first, and he shows no interest whatsoever in her life at her new school. At first, The Grave, as its pupils call it, is really frightening to Liberty: the children laugh at her for her posh accent, and although she finds a good friend before she even gets inside the school gate (called Cali, a near-anagram of the name of her former friend Alice) she gets into trouble straight away. Result: detention for being part of a food fight, more disapproval from her father, and the sworn enmity of Tyler, the school bully. She has one hope, to be able to borrow a violin: at her boarding school she used Alice's, and despite her father's orders taught herself to play in secret. But in this poverty-stricken state school, there is no money for spare musical instruments, and her one pleasure is denied her. Her father will not even allow her to take part in the school production of Bugsy Malone.

Fortunately for Liberty, her new friend Cali lives in the same block of flats and welcomes her into their chaotic, cheerful home. Her mother does everything she can to look after the old people in the area, and Liberty really enjoys helping out by delivering food and chatting to the old folk. Gradually, Liberty finds a kind of happiness she had never expected and finds that losing all their money was not the total disaster she had at first believed it to be.

This book will appeal to young girls who enjoy plenty of emotion in their stories. Liberty goes through stages of shock, frustration, fear and anger, and then tries, mistakenly, to suppress her own feelings entirely to win approval from her father. It takes a long time and much unhappiness before she learns, with the help of her friends, to find a kind of peace and be herself. Kate Maryon works in homoeopathy and youth counselling, and she has real insight into what children feel and how they try to cope with unhappy situations. Although the ending of the book is a little too neat, it is an honest, realistic depiction of family problems, and will appeal to sensitive and imaginative young girls.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Further reading suggestion: Another Kate Maryon book which begins with a catastrophe and ends with the chance of a new beginning is Shine. Also, many of Jacqueline Wilson's books deal with the problems of family life: readers will enjoy, among others, My Sister Jodie and The Illustrated Mum. There's a graphic novel of Bugsy Malone but we weren't terribly keen.

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