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The International Writers Magazine: Young Fiction

The Way I See It by Nicole Dryburgh
Hodder Children’s Books
ISBN: 9780340956922

Holly Bates

At the beginning of her book, Nicole Dryburgh sets out some rules to adhere to whilst we read. I found all but one very easy to follow; the only one which tested me was the no crying rule. I had a bit of a hard time with that one. In fact, I defy anyone who can get through the whole of this inspirational book without welling up even slightly.

The autobiography of a truly amazing woman, "The Way I See It" is Nicole Dryburgh’s account of the emotional and challenging years of her life from the age of eleven when she was diagnosed with a malignant tumour on her spine. Written in diary form, Nicole takes us through the traumatic events which led to her going blind and being confined to a wheelchair. This is an incredible story told in a refreshingly honest way; Nicole has a very frank and straightforward style and never flinches away of telling the full truth about her condition. It can be heartbreaking to hear such a young girl describe her painful treatment while also worrying desperately about losing her hair and missing out on school trips. However, Nicole’s inner strength and determination show a mature nature way beyond her years and it is heart-warming to listen to her story as she grows over the four years the book spans. Her spirit and strength seem to grow by the page. It is truly an engrossing read; you engage with Nicole from the first page and don’t want to put her story down.

Nicole leads a full and exciting life; nothing does or will ever hold her back. I felt like I knew her after reading her story; she shares all her thoughts and feelings, both good and bad throughout; and even the book is peppered with Nicole’s personal touches – pink pages edges and pink writing. The inclusion of her mother’s diary entries adds a whole new dimension to Nicole’s story. These parts, to me, were actually some of the most tear-jerking; hearing her mother having to relate heart-rending messages from her best friends and even having to keep the information that her daughter might be dying to herself for so long. This is an extremely accomplished book; one which you can tell Nicole has crafted until she is perfectly happy with it. Not only are her mother’s thoughts included, but her other family, friends and doctors all contribute their perspectives; showing just how much Nicole touches the world around her. Nicole’s story is so much bigger than just this book though; here is just the very beginning of her story. All the charities she helps are included as well, and she mentions her website; which I’ve visited and seen all the messages of well-deserved support.

Far from feeling sorrow, pity or sympathy at the end of Nicole’s book; on the contrary I felt hope. Nicole’s diary entries are not only honest and moving, they are funny and refreshing; an amazing feat for a story based on a struggle with cancer. The goals she sets at the end of the book are an inspiring ending; the things she wants to do and the people she wants to meet. I have to say, Nicole, you’re most definitely on my list of people I’d like to meet.
© Holly Bates Jan 16th 2008
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Heaven's Eyes by David Almond
Holly Bates Review
This mysterious and intriguing tale of "damaged child" Erin Law’s adventures with her friends is haunting and fantastically original.

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