Margot and Me: heartbreaking, soul filled and beautiful.
The first I heard of Juno Dawson was when I read the Crisis ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas’ short story anthology and I absolutely loved her short story about a Geordie boy (see my review here: BOOKBLOG: Tom Becker) and as soon as I heard there was a new book coming up I KNEW I had to read it! A few of my friends and I agreed to read it at the same time and we all started it on the same day… I am so glad we all started it together, despite the fact I was one of the last to finish it! I love my online group of bookworms, they’re my favourite people.
“Fliss’s mum needs peace and quiet to recuperate from a long illness, so they both move to the countryside to live with Margot, Fliss’s stern and bullying grandmother. Life on the farm is tough and life at school is even tougher, so when Fliss unearths Margot’s wartime diary, she sees an opportunity to get her own back.
But Fliss soon discovers Margot’s life during the evacuation was full of adventure, mystery… and even passion. What’s more, she learns a terrible secret that could tear her whole family apart…”
I picked this book up with very little knowledge of what it was about and I’m pretty glad I didn’t know! It was an absolute revelation to read it totally blind, to discover the characters and the story without any previous knowledge. I had read the blurb, but it had fallen out of my head.
The story starts out with an introduction to Felicity, who is being made to move away from her life in London to a secluded farm in Wales run by her grandmother. Initially Fliss hates her life in Wales: the girls are horrible, she can’t do anything right, her grandmother isn’t your typical grandmother, she hates the farm and then eventually things start to turn. Fliss discovers her grandmother’s diary from when she was evacuated to Wales.
For me, Fliss was quite a hard character to like at first… I don’t know what it was, she just didn’t sit well with me, but as you go through the book (as my friend Aoife said) “she’s a grower”. She will grow on you, she grew on me. Her grandmother was the biggest surprise to me. I found her hard, cold and abrupt initally but once you learn her story you’ll find that she is like an onion, there are so many layers to her. Her diary extracts became the thing that I was reading on for. I absolutely loved learning about her life through the diary extracts. You’ll meet so many incredible characters through the diary extracts – my favourites including Ivor, the gentle giant – and eventually it is the diary that saves Fliss and her grandmother’s relationship.
This story blew me away. I wasn’t expecting it to. But it made my heart so so so happy. I cried an awful lot. The ending broke me. I had grown so attached to these characters – both in the now and the characters of Grandma’s 1940s life – that I wasn’t ready to let them go. The amazing thing about this story is that it came out of nowhere. The relationships between the characters are so complex yet so brilliantly sculpted. The story is beautifully weaved and deals with some incredibly hard hitting subjects: death, bullying, evacuation, war, sexuality, racism, grief, love, heartbreak and pregnancy. (It’s scary to read this book and realise that during the 40s there probably were people who thought the way that people thought in Margot’s diaries.)
I implore you all to read this. It’s incredible.
If you don’t believe me check out my friend’s review: Kelly’s Ramblings: Margot and Me