Review Blog

Aug 22 2013

Almost English by Charlotte Mendelson

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Pan Macmillan, 2013. ISBN 9781447229933.
(Age: 15+) Almost English is told from two viewpoints, with one chapter from Marina followed by a chapter from her mother Laura. Abandoned by her father, sixteen-year-old Marina lives with her mother and her father's three elderly Hungarian relatives in a tiny flat in West London. Feeling caged by her families crushing expectations and strange traditions, Marina longs to escape. However, she is now regretting her escape to a traditional English boarding school which leaves her feeling like an outcast. At this school, Marina feels like the awkward half-foreign girl who doesn't know how to fit in. Marina is shy, doesn't know how to flirt and is clueless when it comes to clothes.
Her emotionally delicate mother has her own painful secrets and thus fails to notice how desperately homesick her daughter is and also continually fails to tell her daughter something she would love to hear - how much she misses her and wants her home. Laura believes because her only daughter wanted to attend a boarding school that she does not want to be with her.
Meanwhile, Marina is pining so badly for home but doesn't want to worry her relatives. Her family, especially her grandmother has sacrificed everything to send her to this exclusive school, so how does Marina tell them she wants out?
I found this book bizarre and I was continually frustrated by the inability of mother and daughter to communicate their true feelings to each other.
Michelle Thomson

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