Saturday, 27 April 2013
ARC Review: Paper Aeroplanes by Dawn 'O Porter
It's the mid-1990s, and fifteen year-old Guernsey schoolgirls, Renée and Flo, are not really meant to be friends. Thoughtful, introspective and studious Flo couldn't be more different to ambitious, extroverted and sexually curious Renée. But Renée and Flo are united by loneliness and their dysfunctional families, and an intense bond is formed. Although there are obstacles to their friendship (namely Flo's jealous ex-best friend and Renée's growing infatuation with Flo's brother), fifteen is an age where anything can happen, where life stretches out before you, and when every betrayal feels like the end of the world. For Renée and Flo it is the time of their lives.
I received this Advanced Reader Copy for review for Easons. (Thank you!) I was really interested in reading this as I had never heard of Guernsey and I thought this novel may get me back into reading some more contemporary romance.
I loved the characters in this novel. They are really unique and make a big impression. Flo's character was really interesting. Flo was best friends with toxic Sally, lived with a mother who hated her and she never stood out before. When she meets Renee, her life changes. Renee's character was the "bad girl" type. She meets with boys, smokes, has sex and drinks alcohol. She was very different from Flo but she was also changed by their friendship. The friendship between Flo and Renee was so well written. Their characters flowed off the page. Renee and Flo became closer than sisters, just when their worlds were changing.
Sally was, I think you could say, the antagonist of the novel. She was cruel towards Flo, her own best friend, nasty towards Renee and constantly seeking the attention of others. Throughout the novel she is the constant barrier between Flo and Renee's friendship. There is a big twist with her character that I did not see coming and I loved it. The novel also explores the home life of Flo and Renee. Flo's older brother is a source of conflict and her mother doesn't talk to her. Renee's sister has developed and eating disorder in a cry for attention and Renee's relationship with her guardians is rocky at best. I really enjoyed the fact that behind the stories of the main characters, there was also sub-plots unfurling in the background with the more minor characters. The character development in this novel is spot on as we can see the change in the characters by the end and know the aspects that shaped them into being .
The plot of this novel pulled the rug out from under me. When I'd read the synopsis, I thought "coming of age story, friendship. Nothing new, right?" I was wrong. This book was unlike any other book of the coming of age genre that I've read. It didn't paint being a teenager in a nostalgic light but showed the real nitty gritty of it. The novel was fast paced and character based, which I enjoyed. There was well written conflict and surprising plot twists that kept me reading. There were really sad parts of the novel but there were also funny, light hearted parts to distill the darkness.
The writing style was amazing. Dawn O'Porter gets into the mindset of Flo, Renee and all the other characters with such a startling edge. She really made the characters come to life. She also nailed the different POV's (point of view) in the novel as some authors try and fail at this. I really enjoyed that she dealt with problems all teenagers face, such as exam stress, breakdown of relationships and friendships and alcohol. This really made me connect to the novel . I also enjoyed her ability to write a funny dialogue or scene to lighten the mood. I also found out she is married to Moone Boy actor, Chris O' Dowd, so maybe she had some funny inspirations from him. Overall this sparkling debut captivated me from start to finish. It was full of real emotion and issues that could connect the reader to the story. An amazing debut.
* * * * *
(Paper Aeroplanes is to be released on May 2 2013. I recommend you pick up a copy because I loved it !)