Thursday, 25 April 2013

What I've Been Reading:
'Love, Aubrey' by Suzanne LaFleur

I'm not usually a big reader of Children's fiction but the cover of this book grabbed my attention and I couldn't resist taking it down from the shelf to take a closer look. The premise sucked me in and I found myself heading to the till and paying for the book. And I'm really glad I had a little uncharacteristic browse of the Children's section of a local book store.

'Love, Aubrey' is aimed at children aged 11 and over but it seems to be a world apart from the novels around when I was that age. I remember fluffy books about babysitters and cheesy horror stories that weren't even intended to be scary. I remember casting aside kids books for teenage (Young Adult wasn't even a genre back then lol) novels that had a bit more substance and some grittier story-lines that my teachers and the school librarian didn't approve of. Things have obviously changed a lot since I was 11 (is it really 16 years ago??) and while reading 'Love, Aubrey' I found myself wishing that this novel had been around for my younger self to read. Because I know that geeky little loner would have adored this book.

Eleven year old Aubrey is alone. At first she thought it would be fun living on her own, buying her own groceries and eating whatever she wants for dinner. But then it started to get a little scary. She knows what her Mom did is wrong but all she wants is for people to understand, to not get mad at her mom because it really isn't her fault. A couple of months ago, Aubrey's dad and little sister Savannah died in a family car accident. As the only survivors, Aubrey and her Mom attempted to live their lives, to get up each morning and go on. But Aubrey's mom couldn't handle it. Aubrey's mom began to get more and more distant until one day she just left. And now Aubrey has to face life alone.

And then Gram turns up, certain that something is wrong. It must be if nobody is answering the phone. After a few days of unsuccessful searching for her missing daughter, Gram decides the best thing to do is take her granddaughter back North with her, keep her safe until everything sorts itself out.

Reluctantly, Aubrey is forced to live again, to get up each morning, to talk to people, to go to school, to move beyond the pain of the accident, the loss of her family. And she begins to find happiness in the most unlikely of places. But when her mom finally turns up, Aubrey's going to have a decision to make. Go home or stay with her new extended family?

I read this 256 page novel in one sitting, not even pausing to make myself a drink or eat lunch. From the first page I was sucked into Aubrey's world, her thoughts and her fears. I found myself remembering what it was like to look through the eyes of an eleven year old in an adult world. There were plenty of moments where I had a lump in my throat and a couple where I actually shed a tear. The last book that moved me in such a way was 'The Perks of Being a Wallflower'. As a child, I don't remember a book ever making me cry and I can't help but wonder whether this novel would have the same emotional effect on an eleven year old as it did on this 27 year old reader. Part of me thinks the perspective of adulthood might be what makes this story so poignant, so heart-wrenching. This book has found a special place in my heart and will remain on my bookshelves until my future children are old enough to read it. 'Love, Aubrey' is a classic in the making.


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