A moving story of friendship and forgiveness, this book perfectly captures the inner life of two sisters whose relationship has broken down.
Maya and Rose are sisters. Born just eleven months apart, they used to be friends. But that was before the accident. Rose was pushing the roundabout, with Maya urging her on, when everything went wrong – the roundabout juddered and threw Rose off at the same time trapping Maya’s leg and changing her life for ever. Maya blames Rose and resents the fact that most people think Rose is almost perfect. Angry and frustrated, Maya can’t resist trying to get her own back by constantly playing mean tricks on her sister. Rose, however, feels guilty and refuses to tell anyone what’s really going on. This secret tension between the two sisters suddenly becomes very public when they set out on a week-long school trip by the sea. Will this be the end of their relationship for good or will the adventures they share on the trip bring them back together?
I had heard great things about Cath Howe’s debut book Ella on the Outside (it won the 2018 North Somerset Teachers’ Book Award and was nominated for the 2019 CILIP Carnegie Medal). I was, therefore, very excited to have the opportunity to read and review her second story, Not My Fault.
Written in two alternating first person viewpoints – from Maya and Rose’s perspective – I was gripped from the first page and read the whole book in one sitting. The characters of the two girls are perfectly realised and impressively distinct. (The publisher, Nosy Crow, helpfully use a different font for each viewpoint but this is really unnecessary as there is never a moment’s confusion over who’s viewpoint we are in).
The text exactly captures the life of both girls, from their inner thoughts to the strains that surround their various friendships. It also does a particularly good job of introducing a large selection of supporting characters who are described through Maya and Rose’s eyes. I immediately warmed to Bonnie and within a few chapters utterly detested Rose’s friend Clemmy. The teachers are, perhaps, less distinct but, given we’re reading from either Rose or Maya’s viewpoint, this isn’t surprising. After all, how many children really take the time to see and understand their teachers?
Essentially a character driven story, the plot does not have lots of twists and turns but there is more than enough to keep you rapidly turning those pages. There is, however, a suitably action-packed climax. I especially like how something in Bonnie’s bag (that makes absolute sense given how she’s set up as a character) turns out to be their saviour. Sorry, you’ll have to read the book to find out what I mean!
If you enjoyed this, you might want to join me in reading Ella on the Outside by Cath Howe. Alternatively, if you’d like to read another thought-provoking story from the same publishers, I’d strongly recommend The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day by Christopher Edge.
Publication date: May 2019
Publisher: Nosy Crow
Author’s website: Cath Howe