The first book that I have read is Sarah Crossan's Apple and Rain, published in August last year. The novel focuses on a thirteen year old girl named Apple, whose life is dictated by her not having a mother. Though she is happy living with her doting and sensible Nana, Apple feels distanced from the girls in her class and finds herself wishing for something more. Until one day Apple's glamorous, wannabe actress mother shows up, with a revelation; that Apple has a secret younger sister. Apple jumps at the chance to move in with her mother and sister, yet both come with their own quirks and issues that Apple must try to help them overcome.
Apple's story, told through her eyes, shows us the value of even the most unconventional of families, and how loyalty can be found in the most unexpected of places. With her English teacher spurring her on, Apple uses poetry to express her inner self and share her fears and desires with us the reader. The novel is written simply yet eloquently where need be. It is always written sensitively, delving into the everyday life of a budding teenager dabbling in first kisses and battling for a place in the popularity stakes. I suggest the audience of this novel to be for those in the lower years of secondary school. However, I enjoyed the book very much, as a moving piece of social realism and lyrical literature combined. It lacks the depth you would find in a John Green book, echoing instead tones of Jacqueline Wilson; in fact it reminded me a lot of The Illustrated Mum. The idea of having to connect with a mother and sister who are both effectively strangers is endearing, as is the question of successful parenting that is flagged up in the book.
Let me know what you think of Apple and Rain if you manage to get hold of it!