Review Blog

Jul 10 2017

All too much by Jo Cotterill

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Hopewell High series. Bloomsbury Education, 2017. ISBN 9781472934079
(Age: 12+) In this, the first of the Hopewell High series, we follow the story of Samira. Sammy (as her friends all her) is an Iranian student who has come to the UK to study. She has a great group of friends who are all in the same year level, but she likes to study and her friends are far too occupied with boys and mascara.
Though the girls spend most out of class time in The Nest (their living quarters), there is room for more detail but the author doesn't deliver. Also lacking is any recognition of what it must be like to be an international student and teenager away from her family in school - surely an underlying stressor in the midst of the other goings-on.
In this High Interest Low Literacy novel, Sammy begins to feel the pressure of being an A student and the embarrassment of her father calling to find out how her French Test went. With a lot on her plate already, Sammy is invited to join the quiz team and is excited that she is the youngest student to be asked. As the pressure builds, the novel begins to focus on Samira's coping strategies and touches briefly on the subject of non-suicidal self-injury (self-harming) and cutting. While Sammy learns different ways to deal with her stress, this is not explicitly explored. Somehow it seems too much like a blanket is thrown over the problem itself and the solutions that seem to 'fix it' are unlikely to be a fix for someone who is a chronic cutter or is more adept at hiding it. While it covers the issue of cutting, there is no real resolution in place.
Clare Thompson

Publisher's note: Bloomsbury High Low books encourage and support reading practice by providing pacy, age-appropriate stories for struggling and reluctant readers, those with dyslexia, or those with English as an additional language. Printed on tinted paper and with a dyslexia friendly font, they are aimed at readers aged 12+ and have a manageable length (80 pages) and reading age (9+). They are produced in association with reading experts at CatchUp, a UK charity which aims to address underachievement caused by literacy and numeracy difficulties.

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