Review Blog

Mar 26 2018

Libby in the middle by Gwyneth Rees

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Bloomsbury, 2017. ISBN 9781408852774
(Age: 9-12) Themes: Family life, Sisters, Moving House, Secrecy, Adolescence. Libby in the Middle is a realistic family story, centred around twelve-year-old Libby, her fractured relationship with her older sister Bella and her interactions with much younger Grace. Gwyneth Rees explores the impact of bullying on sixteen year old Bella and the consequent relocation of the family to dad's childhood home. This layered story explores sibling rivalry, there's secrets new and old that come to light and relationships are tested. Told from twelve year old middle sister Libby's point of view, her experiences, mixed emotions about moving and her fractured relationship with Bella is realistically portrayed. Libby also has a cute younger sister, Grace the baby of the family, who seems to have more of their parents' love and attention. Libby is definitely stuck in the middle.
Although dad doesn't want to return to the country, his sister Thecla overturns his decision by offering to pay for the girls' attendance at a private school near the village. Bella is furious about this decision and sneakily plans that Sam her boyfriend follows them and tries to find work as a mechanic. Hiding Sam, finding a place for him to stay, taking food and money from Aunt Thecla lead to arguments between Bella and Libby.
When Libby makes a new friend Tansy in the village whose father is linked to Aunt Thecla and her own dad's past, Libby begins to uncover hidden truths. Libby is a relatable protagonist, thoughtful, lacking in confidence, seeking the truth at all costs and beginning to find her way into her teenage years.
Libby in the Middle explores family dynamics and how the past can influence the present.
Rhyllis Bignell

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