Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Review: The Taming of Lilah May (Lilah May #1) by Vanessa Curtis

Publisher - Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
Publication Date - 12th May 2011
Paperback - 182 pages
Genre - YA contemporary (realistic)
Source - Borrowed from library
Rating - 4.5 out of 5: I really liked it (+ a bit more amazing)
Reviewed by - Amy

Book Info -
I'm Lilah May and I'm ANGRY.
So angry that I'm about to be excluded from school, my parents can't control me, and only one person in the world understands me. And that's my best friend, Bindi.

I haven't always been this way. It all started with my brother Jay. And what no one realises is that it's all my fault.
(By the author of Zelah Green, Queen of Clean, which has been shortlisted for the Waterstones Prize, The Nasen/TES Prize 2009 and winner of the Manchester Children's Book Awards 2010.)

My Thoughts-
I'm not sure if this has been even nominated for awards. I'm sorry for that non-sureness but I cannot lie; it should win some. Just like Zelah Green did. I reviewed them too and pretty much really liked them too. But this- this book is different. Still contemporary but more surprising.
Firstly, do you know one of the things I love about Lilah May? (Come on! Be physic.) You're not going to believe it but... the made-up words. I love it, I'm sometimes known for "inventing words" but I didn't think of the epic word, "Shockerola!" Lilah did. The thing about Lilah is, she does that to deal with her anger. I don't know how it works but as soon as that word, or maybe her personal favourite 'Groo', is uttered... Well, she seems better for it. So, I support her in what you may think is mad. I love these words, less so the latter.
How many books do you know dealing with anger management? It's not exactly a topic for children. It's not meant to be. Neither are some of the other themes and things brought up in 'The Taming Of Lilah May'.
The mixture of the cover, page length and whatnot may bring a younger audience in that is intended for. But I think 11+ are the best bet.
The length deceives for another reason. You may wonder how much can be packed into it and why the sequel needs to be a separate book at this length. But actually, many longer books don't pack a punch like this one. Drugs are mentioned. There's a hint of multiculturalism (Bindi's family want her to have an arranged marriage and this was discussed a little bit but it was a sub-plot.) If you don't mind hearing about another sub-plot, I'm not wanting to wreck part of the book but well... it's not an integral part, I'm including the below for a reason (you are welcome to skip this paragraph in italics if this is your preference!):
Small spoiler: One of the characters actually gets a teen girl pregnant and surprisingly, with all that goes on, Lilah copes quite well. I get a feeling she's more annoyed about the boy's part in it compared to the girl's. But even if this is not the case, the book handles it in a mature way (and boy, isn't it fab it's handled at all?). The consequences are shown but you don't have to read the other explicit stuff which is best left out, as I'm a teen reading books for teens y'know :P
This was totally unexpected but this part just amped up the rating. Although that is common it's really not dealt with as much as other issues- like mental illness (I know that's unique but not as unique from what I know).
All the relationships were dealt with in a sensitive and amazing way! I felt a connection to Lilah which proves it's not just characters I relate with more (sorry to mention Zelah again!) that Vanessa portrays well, it's all of them. This isn't a fluke. I truly believe you will love all Curtis' books...

Having said the above, especially this one. This is a gem, dealing with topics you probably haven't read about (or rarely, if you have). I enjoyed it thoroughly although felt the mystery didn't suit the book as well, for as long as it carried out. It does hook the reader as we wait to know background information about Jay, Lilah's brother, who disappeared. Yet I hated not knowing until probably halfway through! I'm sorry to say this wasn't the best, I absolutely don't think Jay deserved it all (though of course he's her brother) and was more moved for Lilah and her parents in the main storyline. I just wished I'd known what had Lilah in such twists earlier. Now I do know, I have a good idea of what to expect in the sequel and may read that too. There is sure to be a lot of 'punch' in that too so if you've read that/decide to read that in future please let me know!

Talking about the sequel, as always...

Other books in the series:
1. The Taming of Lilah May (LM #1)
2. Lilah May's Manic Days (LM #2)


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