The story of Adele, a girl with a rotten family, an aching heart, and a questionable best friend, it's a witty, lively novel of growing up female, black, and middle class in contemporary London. As Adele navigates an everyday gauntlet of soccer matches, fights with her best friend, texts and furtive kisses with her boyfriend (her first!), and the travails of her screwed up family, Kalu takes us back to those tough teen years, of learning to hold things together in the midst of chaos--and sorting things out by figuring out just who you are, and who you want to be.
There are very few multi-cultural characters in YA fiction.
1 Observe from close up
It’s easier to write a multi-cultural character if you have run around with people from diverse backgrounds because then you have a fund of experiences to draw on. For instance, one good friend in my early teens was a boy called Aftab (Ed. name has been changed!). I remember being at his house when he and his father were having a furious row in Punjabi. The father, who spoke only a tiny amount of English, finally turned to me and said, exasperatedly, struggling to find the right English words: ‘Aftab ... bastard!’ before storming out of the room.
It was funny and sad at the same time. I really appreciated his dad’s effort to explain the row and I thought it was probably a fair summary of what my friend had got up to (I can’t remember now – it was either taking his dad’s car and crashing it, failing to bank the shop takings or running off with some girl instead of going to school, I can’t remember which – Aftab was a fast and loose boy in those days.)
With friendships such as those, you find draw on them and write them up as fiction. If you did not grow up in multicultural community or family, then it’s never too late to broaden your circle of friends and acquaintances. As you get to know such people better, you will get a chance to move beyond all the clichés, tropes and news headlines and gain a view of them as living, breathing, messy, contradictory, dreaming, farting, sublime people, rather than ciphers. So that’s my one, biggest recommendation.
Outside of that, I think a few things that are worth bearing in mind when developing multi-cultural characters:
2 Consider Hybridity.
I love hybridity because I think it’s an important aspect of life in UK. Young adults of diverse backgrounds often sit at the intersection of several different cultures, religions, traditions, influences, languages and histories. Showing that is important – it helps create convincing characters. So, for example, in Tariq Mehmood’s You’re Not Proper, the main character, Kiran’s dad is both a hopelessly disengaged Muslim and a fervent Manchester United supporter. In my first YA novel, Silent Striker, Marcus’s dad is both proud of his African heritage and addicted to tomato ketchup! In Being Me, Adele is both desperately keen to learn more about her African roots and proud of her Italian heritage. Showing a character’s navigation of diverse cultural influences and tensions in forming their own identity is, for me, a key part of bringing them alive.
3. Give your characters a conflict that puts pressure on their identity
From a plot point of view, I feel a full exploration of a multicultural character can only be achieved if you can place them in a situation where that identity is under pressure and they are faced with a choice. Do they accept racist behaviour or do they challenge it at potentially great cost to themselves? If a major Cup Final is scheduled during Ramadan, do they play or abstain? Will they take the summer Yoruba Language class or will they go camping with friends? Choices reveal character.
4. Let your multicultural character have at least one close black friend
Finally, I would say that it is best to have not one but two diverse characters in any book. This is because, paradoxically, if you have two black characters in a book then, when you put them together in the scne, the reader has a chance to get to know them in ways impossible if they are only shown running with white friends. (This is a variation on feminism’s Bechdel test: see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bechdel_test)
So in Being Me, Adele’s best friend is a black girl, Mikaela and they get up to all kinds of tricks together. The nature of their friendship is a key theme of Being Me. Of course, although this might work, it may be hard to find a publisher who will take on a book that features not one but two main black characters in it. Now that’s another issue altogether!
I give it - 4/5
My review - This was a very enjoyable story.
What I liked about this story is that it is just her life. It is very realistic and that is what I really enjoyed about this story.
In this book we follow Adele. I love how she basically says that there is no happy ending, this is just life and that is what had me gripped. This isn't like any other YA book I have read before so I was very happy for the change.
Adele is just a 14 year old girl trying to deal with life and that is what this book is. Her family life isn't great, they are dealing with various things.
I loved her and Mikaela's friendship. Yes they clash and fight but its over as soon as it begins. Which I think is a great representation of friendships at that age. It reminded me of when I fought with my friends and we made up the next day. They are always there for each other and it was kind of my favourite part of the story, reading about them two.
Being Me is about Adele's life. There are some things in the background that aren't the centre of attention as like I said this is just about her life.
Pete did an amazing job of writing this book and I think everyone needs to give it a read!
All families have secrets.
But some have more secrets than others.
Jim is a brilliant raconteur whose stories get taller with each glass of whisky. His daughter Sam thinks it's time she found out the truth about her dad.
On holiday in Orkney, Sam spies on Jim as he travels across the island. What has he hidden in the abandoned watchtower? Who is he meeting in the stone circle at dusk? And why is he suddenly obsessed with Norse myths?
As Sam is drawn into Jim's shadowy world, she begins to realise that pursuing the truth is not as simple as it seems...
Set against the harsh beauty of the remote Scottish islands of Orkney, inspired by the author's own childhood, this is a gripping first novel from an astonishing new talent.
A sense of place – writing about Orkney
This summer was the first time I had been to Orkney in thirty years. I wrote Orkney Twilight using memories I had of visiting the islands for holidays when I was a child. I started writing the novel when I was living in the States with young kids; a research trip across the Atlantic wasn’t practical. The novel is set in 1984, which is closer in time to my childhood summer holidays than it is to the present day, so I didn’t want to overlay my memories with new perceptions.
More than geographical accuracy, I wanted to capture the sense of magic that Orkney held for me back then. The enchantment of the ancient monuments, sandy bays, curlews and green hills. Sam, the narrator of Orkney Twilight, likes to think she is a Viking seeress, which is the kind of thing I liked to think when I was ten.
Orkney is a place where the deep layers of time are both visible and mysterious. Neolithic stone rings and tombs are covered with Norse runes. Archaeologists unearth new sites – like the breathtaking Ness of Brodgar – brush away the mud, piece the pottery shards together, but they can never be entirely sure what the artefacts signify. A leaving feast? A religious ceremony?
Writing about Orkney was, for me, something of an archaeological dig. Unearthing fragments of my long-gone holidays, examining them, twisting them around to help create a story. Perhaps not surprisingly then, Orkney Twilight is a mystery that revolves around memories, history and myth. What do Sam’s strange recollections reveal about the secret life of her father, an undercover cop? As Sam discovers, there is danger in digging up the past, disturbing the dead.
When I returned to Orkney this summer, I wondered whether I had got some details wrong. I had – although not as many as I feared. I was also worried that Orkney would be different. Some things have changed, mainly for the better – the thriving islands’ community makes sure of that. But the essence of the place has stayed the same. Like Sam, I was surprised to find how easily I could navigate without a map. The contours of the landscape matched those imprinted on my brain. And, despite the passing of my years, I still found magic in the islands. Orkney has a timeless enchantment, the enduring spirit of this special place.
I give it - 4/5
My review - This was such an interesting, gripping story! It is fantastic for a debut novel! It is really hard to believe this is Clare's first novel as the writing just flowed in this book.
I really enjoyed every second of this book. It did take me a few pages to get into it but once I did I didn't put it down once.
The character of Jim and him being an undercover cop was very intriguing. As was his daughter Sam. There relationship is strained because of his job. This story explores the resentment and anger and a bit humour of their relationship.
I really enjoyed the 80s feel to this book as I thought it worked really well with the whole story. I loved the crime bits and overall this was just a really brilliant story from a debut author, and I think everyone would enjoy this fantastic story!
The journey is only as good as its end…
It’s been a hard journey, but Lizzie Lambert’s life is a Provençal dream come true. Her business is wildly successful, and with her little boy and the love of her life, Cal, she is making a beautiful home on the vineyard for their blended family.
But when Cal goes to America to support his son through a teenage crisis, it becomes clear the kid’s not the only one with some growing up to do: Cal’s glamorous ex-wife wants to get her claws in him again. As Cal spends longer and longer away, Lizzie wonders, was it all too good to be true?
Escape to Provence with Karen Aldous’ The Riviera, the perfect read for an idyllic summer.
Links: Amazon UK | Amazon US | KOBO | NOOK | Goodreads
Karen Aldous enjoys village life on the edge of the north-downs in Kent with easy access to the buzz of London. Not only does she love the passive pleasures of reading and writing, she also craves the more active pursuits with her family and friends such as walking, cycling and skiing especially when they involve food and wine!
Karen gets much of her inspiration from her travels and if she had to choose, France, Greece, Switzerland, Italy and Lake Tahoe in US would be her favourites. However, wherever she goes, she discovers a new character emerges in 'Karen's World'. She likes to write about strong independent women who can direct their own lives - but struggle to control them! And, of course there's always a gorgeous hunk or two!
Links: Facebook | Twitter | Website | Blog
I give it - 4/5
My review - I enjoyed this story!
It was very lovely and really cute read!
In this we meet Lizzie and Cal. A couple who are so much in love it's cute. But they do have a few road bumps and with Lizzie having a few trust issues due to her past not everything is coming up roses.
I really liked all of the characters in this book and I could relate to Lizzie a lot. With her trust issues and all. I could see where she was coming from the majority of the time. I also felt very sorry for Cal as he had to deal with his ex-wife, his 16 year old son etc.
It was a beautiful story and I recommend this to everyone who loves a bit of romance with also a few extras that just make this story complete!
Double check best Instagram filter
Avoid thinking about work/Connor/five year plan!!
A four day break from her hectic life to relax in the countryside and hang out at a local festival (for free!) is just what Fiona Delaney needs. With her best friends, great tunes and a cool looking hat her Instagram shots are going to look A-Mazing!
Until suddenly glamping starts to feel a lot more like camping and Fiona’s in desperate search of a comfy chair, wi-fi and a chilled glass of wine. But when she finally makes it to the local pub she discovers this trip could be more than just a holiday, it might just change her life forever…
I give it - 4/5
My review - This was such an enjoyable story and I didn't stop laughing.
Liz has a great style of writing as her characters and witty words had me laughing out loud and awing at the cute moments in this story. This story had me gripped from the very first page and I didn't put it down once. It made me feel like I was there with them. Liz really knows how to draw the reader in to this story and have you laughing along with it.
We have Fiona, she is trying to keep to her 5 year plan, working at a dead end job so she can afford to buy a place with her boyfriend. She then goes glamping with her 3 friends, Sinead, Steph and Kirk and also Kirk's dog. They have a wonderful time and then the gorgeous Sam pops on to the scene.
This is a heartwarming book and reading it made me care for each of the characters and they worked all well together that I would love to read more about them.
Wonderful story that I will recommend to everyone!
by Dax Varley
Publisher: Garden Gate Press
Release Date: September 1st 2015
LIFE IS A NIGHTMARE for Miranda. Without knowing when or why, blood oozes from her palms – an anomaly that makes her feel like a freak. But her abnormality is now the least of her worries. She’s just enrolled at “Suicide High.” Three deaths in three months – one occurring just days before her arrival.
When she bumps into a cute boy named Jake, things don’t appear so glum. Especially since Jake’s a psychic who can predict the immediate future. But his gift of sight can’t prepare her for the horrors that await.
Through Jake, Miranda meets three other extraordinary students:
Topher – who can heal by touch.
Sam – who eats the sins of the dead.
And Xyan – who speaks and understands all languages.
It’s then that Miranda learns the secret behind why she bleeds.
My review - This was an enjoyable read.
This is a story about 5 teens dealing with a demon who is making teens kill themselves. The school they attend has now been dubbed as suicide High.
Each teen has a special gift, which really tied this story together. It made it that more interesting giving each of the characters a special gift. I enjoyed their relationships and reading about their personalities. Each character was different from each other so it made it that more intriguing.
The start was very creepy that had me intrigued. It had me wanting to carry on reading to find out what happens and what is happening. It had the right dose of creepy that was just perfect for this book.
All in all a very fun, creepy read that I thoroughly enjoyed.
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Dax Varley writes the kind of young adult novels she wishes were around when she was a teen. She's a lover of humor, horror and all things paranormal.
When Dax isn't writing, she's collecting odd photos online, reading recaps of her favorite shows or kicked back with a good book. She lives in Richmond, Texas with her husband, a shelf full of action figures and about a dozen imaginary friends.
A striking literary debut of love and mortality perfect for fans of quirky, heart-wrenching fiction like Nathan Filer, David Nicholls and Rachel Joyce. Ivo fell for her. He fell for a girl he can't get back. Now he's hoping for something. While he waits he plays a game: He chooses a body part and tells us its link to the past he threw away. He tells us the story of how she found him, and how he lost her. But he doesn't have long. And he still has one thing left to do...