You all know who Jacqueline Wilson is, right? She’s a legend in the YA market in the UK. She’s written a lot of books marketed towards young, often prepubescent girls about broken families, adoption, friendship, sibling rivalries, the works. I read a good portion of her books growing up, but this book has stood out in the last few years to me. It’s very different from her other books, and stands out quite well.
The story is told by Sylvie West, who is very small for her age and a very quiet, mousy kind of person. She’s best friends with her next door neighbor, Carl, and has been since they were little children. She is completely in love with him, expecting that they will one day get married because they’ve been friends for so long. Carl and Sylvie have their own secret language, handshake, door knock, and even world that they’ve built together, a world based around Carl’s glass collection.
The story picks up when Carl and Slyvie are in Year Nine, having been separated at school because Carl got a scholarship at a Grammar School, while Sylvie is still attending the regular old public school. Sylvie is struggling to make new friends, as is Carl, but Carl is struggling for different reasons. Eventually, Sylvie meets the one friend Carl seems to have made at Kingsmere, who later turns into a massive bully and turns against Carl, who comes out as gay.
The story is basically an ode to friendship and unrequited love. Sylvie loves Carl more than anything in the world, and experiences first hand what jealousy means when she’s slowly being replaced by Paul. She never leaves Carl’s side however, knowing that she has to be there for him as a friend more than anything now that he’s got his heart broken and he feels so desperately alone. Sylvie’s point of view can be a bit tedious to read through sometimes, seeing as she is only about thirteen years old, but she’s a person with a really pure heart who just wants her best friend to be happy, and is finally understanding that sometimes, happiness means that the other person is happy with someone else, not you.
It’s a really good read for all those out there who are contemplating a book for younger siblings. I recommend this book to anyone around the ages of 11 to 15.
Final rating: 4/5. It’s really good for a novel aimed at a much younger demographic than I am!
Buy it here!