Review Blog

Jan 22 2010

Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur

cover image

Puffin, 2009. ISBN 9780141327129.
(Age 10+) Recommended. Waterstone Children's Book Prize shortlist. If you like a tearjerker that wrenches at your heartstrings then this is the book for you. I read it over several days, mainly because my eyes were too sore from crying to finish it in one sitting.
Aubrey is an 11-year-old who has been abandoned by her mother after a tragic accident has devastated her family. Left alone, Aubrey is determined to set up house on her own, and using birthday money from her grandmother, she buys tins of SpaghettiO and a goldfish she names Sammy. She tries living by herself, ignoring the telephone and being careful to ensure that adults don't discover what has happened. When her grandmother discovers her, she realises that she isn't on her own and with the aid of new friends, Aubrey has the strength to make a really hard decision about her future.
LaFleur paints an uncompromising picture of mental illness and how it can affect family members. Aubrey's mother is unable to cope after the family tragedy and to my horror, deserts her remaining child. I was left asking the questions: How could a mother do this? How could Aubrey ever forgive her mother for abandoning her? The situation becomes clearer through Aubrey's letters to an imaginary friend and later her family, but is never glossed over. Aubrey's grandmother is such a calm, unbiased person, that it is through her patience and understanding that Aubrey gradually begins to realise what has happened and to start on the path to forgiveness.
LaFleur has created an unforgettable character in Aubrey. She is brave and honest and with the help of her grandmother, the school counsellor and her best friend Bridget, she is able to confront her feelings about her mother's desertion and her grief about her loss. She also has time to befriend Marcus, a young boy with problems of his own. Gram is a heroine of a grandmother, coming to the rescue of the ones that she loves.
This is a book that would make a worthy class set and one that will gain a following for many years to come.
Pat Pledger

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