I loved this book!
I have spent a great proportion of the last 19 years reading YA material, thinking of how to engage teenage boys, my target readers at Scot’s College (fact of life: where you work to some extent dictates what you read first!).
So to read this was a delightful, tearful, poignant, thought-provoking , feminist-in-a-good-way, funny, clever and all too short treat! Thanks, Kaeli Baker. Keep writing please.
So down to more thoughtful critique:
Kaeli Baker clearly has a handle on teenage behaviour. And on adult behaviour. And on psychological difficulties in kids and adults. And generally on life. For such a young writer, she demonstrates a wealth of understanding which many people can only imagine exists.
The novel is about Sylvie, the second of two daughters, who has poor self-esteem (she’s maybe a bit chubbier than she’d like), few friends (see previous comment) and a sister who is in and out of psychiatric care; Sylvie feels that her parents simply don’t see her. She flips out a bit, and ends up in a seriously horrible situation. So far, similar plot and problems to many other YA novels.
Where this one differs is primarily in the writing, which flows well and carries the reader along, and has enough humour to get you through the tough parts. The characters are all credible and Baker’s insight into the teenage psyche just makes Sylvie and her friends leap off the pages.
I variously wanted to take characters by the scruff of the neck and shake some sense into them, take them out somewhere and quietly dispose of them, or name and shame them. I am not often stirred to such thoughts when I read.
Also, I think that although the protagonist is a girl; the challenges, the turmoil, the innocence (or lack of street-smarts) are all things which are relevant to teenagers of whatever gender or orientation, so there’s no reason to label this as a book “for girls”. When a book works, as this one does, it does not need a designated target market. But it does deserve wide, wide readership. If you know a teenager, give them this book.
It’s a timely, gutsy, thought-provoking read, and I encourage all schools and public libraries to promote it widely. Yes, even the single-sex boys’ schools. It may not get wide readership there, but for each boy who reads it and takes on the points Baker is making, that’s a win in my opinion.
Reviewed by Sue Esterman, former Library Manager at Scot’s College, Wellington
Sylvie the Second
by Kaeli Baker
Published by Makaro Press
We have a copy of Sylvie the Second to give away, to be in to win just leave a comment below by the end of Friday 18 March, telling us the most recent book you have read that has made you go “Wow.”
Sylvie is on a blog tour! Check out these other blogs and dates for more reviews and interviews:
Mon 14 March: beattiesbookblog.blogspot.com
Tues 15 March: kidsbooksnz.blogspot.co.nz
Wed 16 March: http://saradhakoirala.com
Thur 17 March: booksellersnz.wordpress.com
Fri 18 March: bestfriendsarebooks.com
Sat 19 March: msblairrecommends.blogspot.co.nz