Thursday, 11 July 2013
Review: The Diaries of Bluebell Gadsby - After Iris by Natasha Farrant
Publisher: Faber and Faber
Released: July 4th, 2013
Bluebell Gadsby is 13 but that's the least of her problems. Both her parents seem more interested in their careers than the family, leaving Blue and her three siblings as well as their three pet rats (who may or may not be pregnant), in the care of Zoran the au pair. The enigmatic Joss moves in next door and Blue thinks she might be falling in love, until he takes out her older sister Flora instead (who, incidentally, is trying to make a statement by dying her hair bright pink but no one takes the blindest bit of notice). Blue thinks and feels very deeply about life but can't really talk to anyone about it, because no one in the Gadsby family wants to address the real problem - that Blue's twin sister, Iris, died a year ago, and they are all just trying to hide their grief in busyness... So Blue turns to her diary and her unique way of seeing the world through her camcorder to express herself.
The Diaries of Bluebell Gadsby: After Iris is a book dealing with grief, family and everything in between, and is mainly the story of Bluebell and how she survives after a family tragedy. It took me a while to get into but, once I was passed a certain point, I was hooked and couldn't stop reading until I'd finished.
Bluebell had a twin sister, Iris, who died three years ago when she was ten-years-old. Since then, the Gadsby family has kind of fallen apart. Mum is off working in New York all the time, dad has mysteriously moved to Warwick and the four kids are left with an au pair called Zoran. It's chaos, as can be expected, especially with Flora and Blue being teenagers.
As Blue and her family are still trying to come to terms with Iris's death, a new boy, Joss, arrives to live with relatives next door and shakes everything up. He's a strange boy who I couldn't quite figure out, probably my least favourite character. He does perform an excellent stunt involving the Gadsby's pet rats riding in toy cars, though, so he slightly redeemed himself and made me laugh out loud in the process.
The book is told through both normal diary entries and transcripts of short films shot by thirteen-year-old Blue, a budding filmmaker and cameraman. At first I didn't think the changes between the two formats worked, it was choppy and didn't flow well and I just couldn't get used to it. But then something clicked and I started to enjoy the transcripts and how they give an extra real-time glimpse into Blue's life. It's an unusual way to narrate, but in the end it worked.
After Iris is, in the end, a story about love and loss and how to carry on living after something bad happens. It's about the importance of family and friends, and realising it's okay
to move on but still remember. It's the first in a new series and I'm looking forward to the next book, now that I've got used to the format and have fallen in love with the Gadsby family and their pet rats. I only hope that life is a little bit easier for Blue next time!