Saturday 10 December 2016

Review: And By the Way: A Butterfly Novel by Denise Deegan

Hachette Ireland, €8.99

Published 26/02/2011 | 05:00

Alex Newman is the daughter of a famous Irish rock star and goes to Strandbrook College in South County Dublin, an exclusive school where everyone is the son or daughter of someone.

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"We are Kids Of. Kids of diplomats, media stars, musicians, artists, actors . . . but it's like, so what?" When the book opens, Alex's mum has recently died of cancer and both Alex and her father are finding it difficult to cope.

While her father throws himself into his work, Alex pushes everyone, including him, away. Soon, her best friends start to worry about her and it's only when an American boy in her class, David McFadden, starts to pay attention to Alex and really listen to her, that things slowly begin to change.

Packed with contemporary references -- Paris Hilton, Anne Hathaway, The Simpsons -- this novel deals with teen issues in a very straightforward and honest manner.

Alex's journey through grief is chronicled in heady detail, as are the teen parties, the friendship scuffles and, when it all goes horribly wrong and David moves to San Diego, the drunken sex with the brother of a friend and the lingering regret and self-loathing that ensues.

The dialogue is sharp (if a little too authentically littered with Joseph O'Connor "likes"), the writing tense, and emotion ripples through every page.

Deegan nails Alex's caustic teen voice, and leaves the reader rooting for her heroine throughout. Think 90210 with a sprinkling of Dublin grit. This might be just the book to get older teens reading again.

Sarah Webb's latest book for young teens, Ask Amy Green: Bridesmaid Blitz, is out now

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