Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Review: Chelsea High by Jenny Oliver

Publication Date: May 2020
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Source: Review Copy from publisher

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Norah Whittaker’s upbringing has been charmingly unconventional: she’s grown up on a houseboat spending her days fishing, cherry picking and helping her mum out at her vintage market stall. As well as laughing at her chaotic dad. But when her dad’s latest get-rich plan ends up getting him arrested, everything changes.

Grandparents (incredibly rich ones) that Norah never knew had existed enroll her at exclusive Chelsea High. There are polo lessons, ski trips and parties photographed by Tatler, not to mention Coco Summers, Instagram sensation, who is determined to make Norah feel utterly unwelcome. Luckily there is also handsome Ezra who is cast opposite her in the school play.

But is he enough to persuade Norah that she belongs?

A big thank you to Electric Monkey for inviting me on the blog / bookstagram tour for this book! I hadn't heard of this book before but having been in a little bit of a reading slump, and reading lots of contemporary earlier in the summer, Chelsea High sounded perfect for me!

Chelsea High centers around Norah, a teenage girl whose life has been turned upside down by her father losing the money that their fellow inhabitants on their island invested into his movie. As her dad begins to be prosecuted, Norah must leave the safety of her island community to move to London where she is introduced to rich grandparents she has never met, who enroll her in the prestigious Chelsea High

I really liked Norah as a character. She was very authentic, goofy, funny and the reader could really feel her emotions coming through the page as she tried to deal with all the ups and downs happening in her life. I really enjoyed her relationship with her grandparents, watching that blossom and grow was lovely. The romantic aspect of the novel, with Ezra, was something I felt wasn't fleshed out in the best way. I felt it was semi rushed and there wasn't an awful lot of development and growth for what I look for in a romance. I prefer a slow burn, but I am looking forward to how they progress in the next novel. 

I also loved the family scenes with Norah and her parents .. wow a YA books where the parents are present / alive! But their relationship, the stress of the trial and their adapting and leaning on each other in scenes was so lovely. Norah's mum was so strong a character and I loved the carboot sale Saturday scenes. 

The students of Chelsea High were a little bit of an issue for me. I felt the "posh" stereotype was a little overdone and most of the "bitchy, posh" students there sort of blended into one for me and I often found it hard to distinguish between Verity, Emmeline, Tabitha etc. 

One character there was no issue with standing out was Coco. Typical mean girl type, Coco was often infuriating in the novel and was the bane of Norah's new life. Coco definitely is the ultimate mean girl, the way she owns the school and everyone in it. My favourite scene was definitely the pool scene from near the end, if you know you know. 
I would be interested to see if her character develops or changes in a way in the upcoming books. 

The book did really bring what I was looking for at the time, but I just didn't find myself connecting to it in the way that would make it a new favourite. I did feel it being a little rushed in places and somewhat "stereotypical" in terms of character portrayal and the "posh" school stereotypes. But this book was definitely so much fun. I really enjoyed reading it and can't wait to read the sequel! 

Highly recommend for a fun read, not just for summer, but would make a perfect autumn / rainy day read too. 

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