BOOKBLOG: Catherine Barter

Troublemakers: politically minded, sibling focused deliciousness

Troublemakers(I took this at 7am, whilst on a residential with my class. Even when we’re away, I’ll read!)

“Fifteen-year-old Alena never really knew her political activist mother, who died when she was a baby. She has grown up with her older half-brother Danny and his boyfriend Nick in the east end of London. Now the area is threatened by a bomber who has been leaving explosive devices in supermarkets. It is only a matter of time before a bomb goes off. Against this increasingly fearful backdrop, Alena seeks to discover more about her past, while Danny takes a job working for a controversial politician. As her family life implodes, and the threat to Londoners mounts, Alena starts getting into trouble. Then she does something truly rebellious.”

Troublemakers is the story of Alena, who is figuring the world out. She’s 15, she’s discovering the world as it is, she wants to be part of it, she wants to make her stamp on the world. Her older brother Danny and his partner Nick are her life. She lives with them, Danny took on guardianship of Alena when her mum died. Their relationship (both sibling and parental) intrigued me immensely throughout the story. I love a well written, believable sibling relationship – I have a brilliant relationship with my brother, so seeing other positive brother/sister relationships makes my heart so happy. She has a brilliant relationship with Nick too – he’s a wonderful character, sometimes playing middle man between the warring siblings. There’s parts of this story where my heart was breaking for Danny and Nick. I really liked their relationship. 

I’m not normally one to pick up a political book, but whilst this deals with politics, it’s not in your face. It’s not the only thing about this book. It is a brilliant book in the current climate and it touched on some pretty important things. I won’t spoil it for you but this is a brilliant story. It’s very character centric which I adored. There’s times when you’ll want to punch the characters, hug them, argue with them: books like this are my favourites. I like to feel part of their lives. Not a bystander.

Danny and Alena do not see eye to eye in this. There are so many things they dispute over. One of the main areas of dispute is Alena’s need to hunt out one of her mum’s best friends. Danny HATES this idea. It causes a lot of tension between the siblings. They fall out. They argue. They ignore each other. Alena goes against her brother’s wishes. She rebels. There’s some lovely moments between them where they both soften to each other because they eventually see what the other needs. Danny does things too, gets a job, that Alena doesn’t like either. They both make mistakes; they both rebel against each other to try and find their identity

This book, in the end, filled my heart with joy. 

My Goodreads review reads:

“Fantastic. Absolutely loved it. Totally apt for today’s world. A loving, conflicted sibling relationship. A beautiful relationship. A complicated, yet simple political message. Character centric and I adored it.”

Thank you to Andersen Press for sending me a copy! 

Have you read Troublemakers?
What’s your take on political books?
Do you have a favourite sibling relationship in fiction?

Let me know in the comments or on twitter! I need more brother/sister fictional relationships in my life!

S x

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