International Writers Magazine: Young Fiction:
I Know About You by Belinda Hollyer
Samuel James Richards
confronted with a book whose cover is adorned with a sparkling array
of butterflies, hearts and flowers, your first reaction would generally
be that this is definitely a book targeted at adolescent girls,
which you would be correct in assuming. Your first reaction is unlikely
to be that this book will contain a deep contemplation of how death
can affect a young person and how said individual deals with having
to grow up a lot quicker than usual to cope with life. This is,
however, what Belinda Hollyer achieves in her book Everything
I Know About You, showing that, as the saying goes, you shouldnt
judge a book by its cover.
From the first page
we dive into the world of a young girl called Lizzie who lives in London
with her father and her younger brother Eric. We hear how her life has
reached a comfortable equilibrium after the trauma of losing her mother
a few years before the story begins. But when her imaginative brother
claims hes seen their mum working at the National History Museum
Lizzie begins to question all the things that helped her make sense
of life and has to find an answer to the mystery.
Belinda Hollyers honest and open style of writing is a key reason
why this book is a pleasure to read, regardless of the age or gender
of the reader. Hollyer allows the reader to see her personality in the
text, revelling in sharing her love of poetry and her experiences
of Regents Park through the thoughts of her protagonist. She writes
the voice of a young girl realistically and confidently, without embarrassing
herself by trying to be hip, showing herself to be superbly
adept at writing for her chosen genre.
The themes and issues confronted within Everything I Know About You
are deep and complex, but this is another one of the books assets.
The target audience dont want to "wait until theyre
older" to understand and identify with the struggles Lizzie faces
in being a surrogate mother to her younger brother, her fear of accepting
new people into her life and the possibility of facing loss again. Hollyer
treats her readers with respect, allowing them to become immersed in
her story and enjoy it to the full.
The only qualm that Hollyers book may induce is that Lizzies
narrative voice can be seen as slightly too mature for a girl of her
age, and that a third-person narrator could convey the story more realistically.
However this point can be quickly swept aside with the understanding
that Lizzie is more mature than the average girl of her age because
of her life experiences. Also the use of first-person narration makes
the story that much more personal, something Hollyer obviously delights
Everything I Know About You is a brave and intriguing story that
will challenge younger and older readers alike. Behind the flowers and
the fairies that the exterior of the book is wrapped up in, there is
a deep and touching narrative hidden beneath, which both adults and
children will find hard not to enjoy.
© Sam Richards October 2008
shl60123 at port.ac.uk
Sam is studying Creative Writing at the Univerisyt of Portsmouth
Young Fiction Reviews
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