Book: The Mess of Me by Chantelle Atkins
categories: Book, Eating Disorders, Self-Harming, Drugs, Families, First Love, Violence, Step-Families, Growing Up
Chantelle Atkins about this book: This book is about 16 year old Lou, a girl determined to get thinner, her best friend Joe, a boy determined to impress his shady older brothers, their friend Marianne, a girl who self-harms to make herself feel better, and how all three of them become entangled in the messy lives of Joe's older brothers Leon and Travis. Lou has known the Lawrenson family her entire life, they live on the same council estate and their mothers are best friends, but Leon and Travis have always been a mystery to her. Written from Lou's point of view, the story unfolds over the summer between school and college, between childhood and adulthood. Lou and Joe are fed up of being the 'good' kids in their dysfunctional families, and they want to make some money. Cue Travis and Leon and their secret criminal activities. As the summer rolls on, things get messier, and Lou gets skinnier. It is confusing though, because all of a sudden both Travis and her best friend Joe are trying to kiss her, and they never tried that when she was fat, did they? As for Marianne, for someone who hacks at her own arms whenever she feels down, she comes across as remarkably shrewd, devious even. Is she Lou's friend, or she really her enemy? The summer draws to an end with some dramatic revelations and a violent climax.
The book is about being young, growing up, hating your body and your family, and about wanting to escape, while at the same time not having a clue what or who you want to be. It is about the people in our lives who we really know nothing about. It is about friendship and first love, and I think it is for anyone who still remembers what it is like to be young and confused, to have your life in a constant mess, not really knowing who you are. I think it will appeal to young adults and adults alike. The front cover was painted by an artist friend of mine who read the synopsis and drew inspiration from that. I think readers will enjoy it whatever their background, but personally I sometimes feel like all the books I read are about middle class people with middle class lives and problems. I like to create characters who are flawed but intriguing, people I would like to know better in real life, people I wish I was friends with!
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