Review Blog

Feb 15 2012

Paradise by Joanna Nadin

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Walker Books, 2011. ISBN 9781406324747.
(Ages 15+) Highly recommended. What schoolgirl can resist a secret? Award winning author Joanna Nadin, knows how to capture her young female audience quickly, and with many secrets hidden in Paradise this novel is sure to be a winner. The first chapter neatly entices the reader inside Billie's world, before Nadin deftly unfolds the complexities of her plot in the following chapters.
Paradise is the story of young Billie, who desperately wants to find her Dad, and with good luck and a hefty chunk of destiny on her side, inherits her grandmother's house in Cornwall. Not her mother, not her brother, but sixteen-year-old Billie. This would seem a wonderful thing, but for impoverished Billie and her family, it might pose a problem if her mother discovers the solicitor's letter. Not knowing what to do, she hides the letter for three days, until unable to stand it any longer, she finally shows her mother. Surprisingly, her mother says 'it is serendipity, we'll go' and Billie's life changes forever.
Leaving their small London flat, Billie, her mother Het, and younger brother Finn, find themselves at the front door of their new home. They are excited and explore their new-found luxury with careless abandon. The secrets of the attic and the transparency of small village life quickly present Billie with more questions than she can answer. Then there is Danny, a little older than Billie, and she cannot understand her feelings for him.
Lightly-written, this sensitive tale provides an emotional glimpse into the misfortunes of Billie's mother, and her struggles to provide for her two young children. Masterfully interwoven with cameos from the lives of the two older women in Billie's world, revealing loves won and lost, and secrets kept and broken, Joanna Nadin gives a rare insight into what can happen when people are caught in a web of concealment, and a child discovers for herself that life is not all she might have imagined. It confronts some of life's difficulties gently and wisely.
I liked this novel, it is well written, and should keep teenage girls intrigued from cover to cover. Highly recommended for school library bookshelves.
Colleen Tuovinen

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