It’s pretty embarrassing to admit, but when I read books by Siobhan Parkinson, I always read them in her voice. This is because she once taught a class on Writing for Children and always opened her class with a poem, the most memorable of which was In Your Mind by Carol Ann Duffy.
What’s really cool is that, to me, Siobhan Parkinson’s Bruised and Heart Shaped kinda-sorta-definitely-maybe both embody the poem in ways that I can’t really explain. I think that’s why I read her books in her voice and not my own reader-voice, which is a bit weird but I don’t really care.
It’s when I start reading OTHER books that are NOT written by her in HER voice that someone should really call the men in white coats to come and get me…
And I think it’s safe to assume that Siobhan Parkinson will read this review in her voice. Because it is her voice.
Wouldn’t it be weird if…. never mind.
Okay, enough crazy.
Bruised is a story about a boy named Jonathan (Jono) and his younger sister Julie. They live with their mother who is an alcoholic. The story follows Jono and Julie as their lives change when their mother dies from a drink-related accident. Through several unfortunate coincidences, the authorities think that Jono had something to do with his mother’s death and he and Julie go on the run. I thought this book was excellent, and I read it in one sitting.
Heart Shaped is the companion/sequel/brother/sister of Bruised.
It’s okay to read one or the other first, because they compliment each other so beautifully. I read Bruised first, just simply because it was published first. Heart Shaped follows Jono and Julie’s story from the point of view of Jono’s would-be girlfriend, who incidentally found Jono’s dead mother lying on the floor in his house.
It brings back the previously repressed memories of when Annie found her own mother dead when she was younger. The dovetailing of the two books, and indeed the dovetailing of the two traumatic incidents is immensely satisfying. That is a credit to Siobhan Parkinson, because not once did it come across as forced or try-hard. It was seamless and by god, it was moving!
Recently, I have become obsessed with what I like to call “teen realism”, as you may have read in my previous post. And the main reason for that is that teen realism gives you no nonsense, it is plain-speaking and doesn’t patronise or feed you idiocy such as:
-OMG that vampire wants to drink her blood but he LOVES her OR
-OMG my true love is maybe possibly my half-brother but i LOVE him OR
-OMG I just got picked to go kill a load of people in a ever-worsening turn of events.
Or maybe I am just being overly critical.
Siobhan Parkinson’s novels are like air. If you breathe, you need air. If you read, you need these books in your head.
She has the most fantastic way of writing, that leaves you thinking about things long after you finish the book, and also, in my case, ever so slightly jealous of her writing prowess.
It is obvious why she was made Ireland’s first ever Children’s Laureate, and it is because she exudes and embodies what it is to write for children. To say that she knows about writing for children is a bit of an understatement.
So read her books. All of them. ‘Nuff said.