Friday, 22 October 2010
Review: Dear Dylan by Siobhan Curham
Format: Large paperback
Released: March 24th, 2010
Grade rating: C+/B-
Fourteen year old Georgie Harris feels as if the summer holidays are over before they have even begun. Banned from going to the local drama workshop by her bully of a step-dad and her increasingly fragile mum, she is consigned to six long weeks of looking after her tooth-fairy obsessed kid sister. Sick of feeling like the outsider at home and at school, she starts emailing the one person she thinks might understand; Dylan Curtland, star of the popular soap opera Jessop Close. And when Dylan starts emailing back, Georgie finally feels a tiny spark of hope. At last she has someone who really gets her, someone who really wants to help. But in the faceless world of email all is not as it seems...
I didn't enjoy Dear Dylan as much as everyone else seemed to and, to be honest, I'm still not quite sure what I thought of it. I liked the format it was written in, but many of the situations were unbelievable, and main character Georgie irritated me more than I'd like.
Georgie was one of those teenagers I just couldn't warm to. She made up words like 'frost-free', and called her step-dad 'Tone-Deaf'. Normally I'm quite good with teen slang and unusual dialogue, but in this case it wasn't something I got used to. I really did try, but I just couldn't think of Georgie in a favourable way. Nan, the older lady Georgie talked to through email, was a better character, though even she didn't strike a chord with me.
Dear Dylan was written entirely in emails, which was one of the things I really liked about it. I like to see authors acknowledging how important technology is, and how it affects our lives in different ways. Curham used it here to show the dangers - and benefits - of talking to strangers on the internet, and I thought that was an important lesson to address. I did have a bit of a problem with how Nan approached things, especially because she knew Georgia was only 14. Even though she was a lovely person and meant no harm, I still thought she'd know better.
Dear Dylan changes direction part way through the story, and ends up being about something far from what I was expecting. I won't spoil anything, but it deals with serious topics within the family home, and approaches them in a very sensitive manner. There's a lot to learn from this book, and a lot of life lessons to be taken away.
This book didn't turn out to be for me, though I know a lot of other readers and bloggers absolutely loved it. Had I liked Georgie more, I'm sure my feelings would have been different, but unfortunately I didn't. Dear Dylan has a lot to offer when you break it down, especially to younger teenagers who may not know about the dangers of the internet, and I think it would be a good title to keep on school library shelves.