Review Blog

Mar 25 2013

My life as an alphabet by Barry Jonsberg

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Allen and Unwin, 2013. ISBN 9781743310977
(Age: 11+) Highly recommended. Disability. Family relations. Candice Phee is a little strange and her quirks come across vividly in this engaging story about a girl who has special needs (probably Asberger's) but who has a big heart and is determined to fix the people in her life. Her baby sister has died and both her parents are grieving. Her mother has retreated to her bedroom, badly depressed, and her father has retreated to his shed, tinkering with his computer. She has a new friend, Douglas Benson From Another Dimension, who after a fall, is convinced that he comes from a parallel universe. Her Rich Uncle Brian is also a source for concern as he and her father have fallen out badly over rights to a computer program. There is certainly a lot to fix in this family.
The novel is told in the first person by Candice. Her teacher has set the class a task of writing an autobiography, with a paragraph starting with each letter of the alphabet but Candice feels that is not enough to tell the story of her life and makes it into chapters. Interpersed with letters to a pen friend in New York, the reader is drawn into the life of this strange girl, who takes things very literally but also is very honest and caring.
There is a lot to like about this novel. Jonsberg's clever writing of humour makes it an engrossing and touching read. Candice is a wonderful heroine who although socially inept, has such warmth and compassion that the reader gets caught up in her funny machinations and hopes for the best results for her efforts to fix the problems in her life.
Pat Pledger

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