Review Blog

Dec 15 2009

Bang, bang, you're dead by Narinder Dhami

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Corgi Books 2009. ISBN 9780552560436.
(Ages:12+) Hearing that her school is in lockdown because a gunman is holding a class hostage, Mia realises it is her brother, Jamie, a boy who has threatened violence to get himself and his family's problems noticed. On her way to the school, Mia recalls her family's plight: their mother, a depressive, often taking so many pills that she remains asleep for days, at other times going on periods of high excitement, resulting in buying many things they cannot afford on credit cards she can never pay off. The family's lives are blighted by her illness, and despite their trying to get help from authorities the two children are powerless.
Mia tells us of her struggle to find her father, a man who left before she and her twin brother were born. She makes appointments with the local doctor, only to be rejected again by her mother, when she realises that she has been brought there by her daughter to be seen herself. Mia tells us of the problems she has at school where some of her classmates know of her mother's instability.
With several twists during the novel, the story line keeps the reader guessing right to the end. The strong character of Mia holds the readers' interest and the brother's motives are well defined and garner sympathy from the reader. Altogether a most readable novel, with swipes at the services there to help people in need but failing to do so, as well as getting into the mind of a disturbed family.
Fran Knight

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