Paper Avalanche by Lisa Williamson

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Paper Avalanche by Lisa Williamson

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: I was really hoping things would work out for Ro in this story - a really good, gripping read.
Buy? yes Borrow? yes
Pages: 368 Date: January 2019
Publisher: David Fickling Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781910989968

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Ro Snow spends her time at school trying to pass under the radar. She doesn't want anyone to notice her, because then they might start asking questions, or they might want to be friends, and she can't have any friends because she can't ever have anyone come over to her house. You see, Ro's mum is a hoarder, and their whole house, with the exception of Ro's bedroom, is an ever-growing mound of rubbish and paper, and Ro lives in fear of social services finding out and taking her away.

Ro is desperate that no one will discover her secret. She even lies about where she lives, telling people it's a different house on the street and hiding in their garden before going into her real home. It's easy to imagine the extent of the piles of rubbish in Ro's home. I found it really moving that she's put a lock on her own bedroom door, to stop her mum spreading her collection into Ro's room, which is her sanctuary in the house. Ro really has to be the grown-up in the family, helping her mum stay on track with the bills, sorting out the money, getting food in and trying, desperately, to stop her mum from hoarding more and more.

Ro's dad left some years ago and has a new family. It's heartbreaking to see his treatment of Ro, and you're left pretty much despising him. He seems oblivious to Ro's situation, and Ro knows that she can't rely on him for help. I really felt for Ro. There's an increasing sense of frustration as a reader, that no grown-ups have managed to spot what's happening, and that her dad and stepmum are so grossly ineffective in helping her. I started to feel desperate that someone really needed to find out the truth and rescue Ro. I think that shows the strength of the writing, that I cared so much about what would happen to Ro.

With the entrance of a new girl at school, Tanvi, who seems determined to be friends with Ro come what may, Ro finds her life changing very quickly. Tanvi persuades Ro into the school choir, and in singing Ro finds and escape and release that she desperately needs. She's also really, really good at singing, so this becomes an opportunity for her to shine. Even though she's spent so long hiding away, and trying very hard not to be seen, she starts to find a pleasure in being good at something, and getting recognition for that.

I really enjoyed this story. The characters are all really well drawn, so as well as liking Ro, I also really loved Tanvi, who is a lot of fun and introduces a different way of living to Ro. Tanvi comes with her own set of issues (as every teenager does), though Tanvi's are rather more serious than most. Then there's also the entrance of a new next door neighbour to be a love interest for Ro. A lot of the book is typical teen trials and tribulations, yet it's all woven together within the larger issues of Ro's homelife. It's a very easy read, and one that's hard to put down as you just want to know if Ro is going to be okay. Whilst there are some very sad moments, I found it to be ultimately an uplifting story.

Further reading suggestion: You might also enjoy Lisa Williamson's other novels, All About Mia and The Art of Being Normal

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Buy Paper Avalanche by Lisa Williamson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Paper Avalanche by Lisa Williamson at


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