My grateful thanks to Mikka Haugaard for a copy of Notes On My Family by Emily Critchley in return for an honest review.
Notes On My Family
A vivid present tense account of life in a dysfunctional family told by a perceptive thirteen year old girl with a sense of irony and humour.
Lou, her sister Sarah – ‘for people who have been forced to share living accommodation for the last thirteen and half years, we have very little in common’- and her brother Mickey- ‘he’s gay but he doesn’t yet know it’ – discover that their parents are going to be doing a ‘trial separation with a view to permanent’, and that their dad is having an affair with a sixth former. ‘Thinking of my dad as anyone’s ‘lover’ is actually quite gross. ‘Boyfriend’ didn’t seem the right word for an adult who is fast approaching forty-seven and owns socks that are older than I am.’
Meet Lou, her siblings, her mum and dad, her nan who does seances , her friend Faith who has six mums and dads (all gay) and Hammy, the escaped hamster.
My Review of Notes on My Family
Louise Coulson doesn’t fit in with other thirteen and a half year olds at her school and life is about to get tougher.
Notes On My Family is a young adult book but I think it should be read by every parent and teacher as well as the audience it is aimed towards because of its wonderful insight into the mind of a teenage girl. I thought it was brilliant. Emily Critchley makes the reader think and question their own actions and place in society. This is an outstanding book about the nature of identity.
Emily Critchley writes with wry humour so that some of Lou’s thoughts and comments made me laugh aloud. However, what she does best is create a depth of emotion that made me completely entranced by Lou’s life. I was so absorbed and convinced by the writing that as well as leaving me feeling uplifted, it made me cry too.
The characterisation of Lou is wonderful. Her first person account allows the reader to see right inside her head and to understand not only Lou but others with similar personalities and minds. Totally convincing, Lou really is one of ‘the people who are different that make a difference’. She’s sensitive, intelligent and individual and she even left me wondering if I should allocate colours to days of the week and foods. It is the flawless quality of Emily Critchley’s writing in maintaining Lou’s persona that is so appealing.
There is a super plot that covers so many aspects young people will be only too aware of, from bullying to first love, from family break ups to first periods and Lou navigates a world of school and family in a way that would be of huge comfort to young people similarly struggling. These are universal themes personally handled making them accessible to readers of all ages through fabulously skilled writing.
Notes On My Family may be marketed as a Young Adult read but it is a book that offers something for readers of all ages because of the superb characterisation and insight. I loved it and cannot recommend it highly enough.
About Emily Critchley
Emily Critchley grew up in Essex. She left school at sixteen and worked in various shops and call centres where she jotted down ideas for short stories on scraps of till roll. She studied creative writing at London Metropolitan University and graduated with a first class honours degree. Her poetry and short stories have been published both online and in magazines.
Notes On My Family is her first novel for young adults.