Review Blog

Oct 25 2012

Dads, geeks and blue haired freaks by Ellie Phillips

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Electric Monkey, 2012. ISBN 9781405258197.
(Age: Teenage) Recommended. Dads, geeks and blue Haired freaks by Ellie Phillips is a quirky novel that will resonate with teens. When first introduced to us Sadie Nathanson, Phillip's main character, is looking for her identity in a hair colour named 'Blue Haired Freaks', yet a birthday card from 'Dad' sets Sadie off on a journey to unravel the mysteries of her birth. She goes looking for a father and finds much more than she had bargained for in the process. Sadie, from Hackney East London, is a sensitive yet independent and intelligent 15 year old who must deal with the contemporary issue of sperm donation. She is helped on her quest to track down potential fathers known only as 254, 278 and 241, by her resourceful, nerdish cousin Billy and his fellow rock band member Tony Cruz. One of the strengths of this novel is Phillip's sympathetic portrayal of Sadie's quest to make sense of not only her birth but the standard conflicts teens face. Sadie is dealing with the inevitable drifting apart between herself and ex-best friend Shona Matthews and the subsequent bullying at school. To compound this, Sadie is finding her mother clueless, less than supportive and her Jewish Great Aunty Rita and Filipino Uncle Ze claustrophobic and in typical teen fashion it is to the internet and chat rooms that Sadie turns to for advice. Young adults will recognize the reliance Sadie has on her virtual chat room friends for empathy and guidance. Groovechick2 helps Sadie make sense of her troubled and confusing life. Phillip's has crafted her main character's voice in a style that mirrors the zaniness of Sadie herself. Sadie is an aspirational hairdresser- we follow her moods and subversive tactics to find her father through a variety of hairstyles and colours. Sadie's judgements and reading of the people around her are based on hair style and colour and while she competes with Shona for the attentions of Tony, she must also compete with Aunt Lilah for the right to cut her family's hair. Phillip's technique of including texts, emails and chat room dialogue will find an audience in young adults who are looking for a realistic novel with originality and humour.
Leanne Bell

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