A Song For Ella Grey by David Almond
Hodder Children's Books 2014. ISBN: 9781444919547
(Age: Teens) A Song for Ella Grey attempts to incorporate both visual and aural elements. Every action is easy to visualise and the writing is completely accessible to young people.
The story takes place in the North of England during the final year of schooling for Claire and her friends. Since winter, they have been planning a trip to the beach in Northumberland. When Spring break comes however, Ella, Claire's best friend, can't go and so the group leave her behind. The trip is everything Claire wanted it to be - a week of boisterousness, booze and boys. But without Claire it's not the same. When a mysterious stranger appears (a musician and a wanderer), Claire feels like she needs to share the experience with Ella. She calls Ella and the mysterious man talks and serenades her. They have an instant connection.
When term resumes Claire notices that Ella is more dreamy than ever. She is fixated on Orpheus, despite never having met him, and convinced that he is going to come for her. Unable to do anything to prevent their meeting, Claire can only stand by as Orpheus comes to sweep Ella away. But real life isn't so neat and before long, disaster strikes, snatching poor Ella from their grasp. To prove his love, Orpheus disappears, searching for a way into the underworld to rescue her.
The novel incorporates some elements of Greek mythology as one of the characters, Orpheus, is potentially the mythological Orpheus, legendary musician and poet. He has the ability to charm all living things, this is apparent in the novel through Bianca's infatuation. Despite being a mythological element, there is no direct mention of Orpheus as a mythological figure and so no prior knowledge is necessary. Dealing with issues surrounding school, alcoholism, stress and boyfriends, this is a novel that I would fully expect any teenage girl to pick up and read.
Kayla Gaskell (age nineteen)