When Rain Turns to Snow
This novel follows the pattern of much contemporary YA fiction in covering an assortment of topics that are often fraught for adolescents trying to find their place in the world. Here it’s broken families, adoption, IVF, homosexuality, fragile friendships, and assorted forms of bullying. The picture that Jane Godwin draws of teenage behaviour emerges as something all too recognisable. At the same time, the main characters Lissa and Reed, both of them generous and responsible as far as their youth will allow, find strength and support in each other as they deal with serious life problems that include some unrelentingly vicious cyber-bullying and a very sick baby. The management of a teenage narrative voice by an adult writer is harder than people think, but Godwin makes Lissa’s voice credible and consistent.
The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman
Norman Foreman is 11 and he has more than his share of troubles. The chronic skin disease is bad enough, but it pales into insignificance beside the fact that he has just lost his best friend. His mother Sadie is also not best placed for success in life. And yet, with the help of an elderly friend, they bravely set off from Cornwall to Edinburgh so that Norman, an aspiring stand-up comic, can try to score a gig at the Fringe. They are also trying to track down Norman’s father, if only they knew who he was. There are some nasty things lurking in the various back-stories, so this funny, charming and warm-hearted book never sinks into the lake of treacle that one might have feared. Part quest, part road trip, the story is told by Norman and Sadie in turns, and there are at least a dozen secondary characters who are equally well drawn.