A dyslexia friendly story about alcoholism that’s told using a strong, appealing, and very easy to read teen voice.
Everyone in Violet’s family misses Steve. Things haven’t been right since he left. Her younger brother, Freddie, desperately misses his Dad and her mum just hasn’t been the same. At first, Violet accepts that the odd glass of wine is helping her mum cope. Then the number of glasses Mum drinks starts to increase. Soon it feels like Mum is the teenager rather than Violet. As Violet takes on more and more of the childcare for her little brother, she convinces herself this is just a little blip. Things will get soon be back to normal. However, when she starts to find the hidden vodka bottles, Violet begins to worry. Still, she continues to hope until an innocent mix up brings everything to a head.
The book is written in first person from Violet’s perspective and we immediately warm to her. Her voice is strong, appealing, and very easy to read. The authenticity of the teen voice is all the more impressive when you remember that this is part of the Barrington Stoke collection of books for emergent, reluctant and dyslexic readers and the reading age is 8. (Although be warned the content is very much aimed at teenagers!)
It is interesting to understand the experience of living with an alcoholic from Violet’s perspective as she tries to cover up and excuse Mum’s drinking, despite the personal ramifications for herself. When reading this book, I couldn’t help reflecting how these emotions probably apply to a much wider range of difficult family circumstances including drug, emotional and physical abuse. (I subsequently read Eve Ainsworth’s author profile and found this confirmed by the fact she has a background working in pastoral and child protection roles in secondary schools).
As the reader, we desperately want Violet to confide in someone and to seek help but can also understand why she chooses not to. With luck this book will encourage teens in similar circumstances to reach out for help and will help others to have a greater empathy with those in challenging families.
This is essentially a character driven story and given the relatively short (106 page) length, the plot itself is necessarily limited. As with so many of the books in this Barrington Stoke range, it is, however, gripping and I was desperate to find out how it would be resolved. The climax is clever and the resolution gives the book a satisfactory, yet realistic, ending.
If you enjoyed this and are looking for another dyslexia friendly YA book from Barrington Stoke, I’d strongly recommend you try Letting Go by Cat Clarke or, maybe, The Liar’s Handbook by Keren David. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a full-length novel, why not try the gripping and powerful Paper Avalanche by Lisa Williamson.
Publication Date: August 2020
Publisher: Barrington Stoke
Author’s website: Eve Ainsworth