Review: Read Me Like a Book by Liz Kessler

Read Me Like a Book is a sensitive portrayal of a young woman who lacks a sense of self and whose journey of self-discovery happens in the most unexpected of ways. Ashleigh Walker is seventeen years old and studying for her A-levels. She has three friends at her local college--the slight wild Cat, straight-laced Robyn, and Luke who sits somewhere between the other two. She has a boyfriend, Dylan, but the reader soon gets the feeling that she isn't really interested in him, and is only dating him because it is what she thinks that Dylan and others expect from her. It's a dilemma that is easy enough for many teenagers to identify with, that sometimes relationships or even hook ups happen not because the pair are truly interested in one another, but because they feel that they should be dating someone. And then, something unexpected happens as Ashleigh gets to know her new English teacher. For the first time, she starts to develop the symptoms of a crush. The only thing is, her teacher is female...

This was an interesting account of a young woman who doesn't have a lot of parental guidance trying to navigate the murky waters of adolescence, her final year of schooling and an understanding of her sexuality--and that the latter is something that belongs to her and cannot be determined by trends or peer group pressure. The response from her parents was quite interesting, one treats her with love and understanding, while the other doesn't. Overall, I found the novel to be quite realistic in its dealings with adolescence--it doesn't romanticise certain things, or shy away from the fact that adolescence can be an icky, awkward time and we know that Ashleigh's problems aren't magically going to go away when she experiences her first relationship. I think this one will be relatable to many teenagers, regardless of who they are attracted to, because the themes of discovering yourself are so strong.

Also, I really, really liked this passage and I think other readers will too:

It's all very well going round with two fingers stuck up at the world. but what happens when the world turns round and sticks them back up at you? The world's a lot bigger than I am. (p227)



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