Tuesday, 26 March 2013

The Day I Met Suzie


The Day I Met Suzie by Chris Higgins
Paperback, 368 pages

Expected Publication: 7th March 2013 by Hodder

Shelves: arc-or-review, books-i-own, contemporary, read-in-2013, realistic-fiction, to-be-reviewed, young-adult
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Description via Goodreads:

'My boyfriend could get into trouble if he gets caught. He could go to jail.' I moan softly. 'So could I.' 'Anything you tell me is completely confidential.' I sigh deeply. What have I got to lose? 'I wouldn't know where to begin.' 'At the beginning?' she says. 'In your own words.' So that's what I do. I start at the beginning like she says. The day I met Suzie. Indigo (Indie) rings the Samaritans. She is frightened and desperate with no one to turn to. Over the course of one long night, Indie tells her story to the person on the end of the phone. She realises that her friend Suzie has taken over her home, her friends, her work, her boyfriend - and her life. After every few chapters we are brought back to the present moment, and see how piecing the story together helps Indie progress towards resolution.

Although Chris Higgins is quite a big name in the UK YA scene, this is the first book that I've picked up that has been written by her. I love a good realistic teen read and that is exactly what this was. The blurb of the book promises intrigue and writing that tackles real, difficult problems and so as soon as I read about it, I wanted to find out more.

The premise of The Day I Met Suzie is refreshing - the telling of it, through a phone call to the Samaritans, is imaginative and works very, very well - this is really why I picked the book up. The story is based around a subject that I've not seen tackled in UK YA literature before - teenage debt. For me, the thing that made the book what it was were the characters - our protagonist, Indigo (Indie) and a girl that she befriends, Suzie. 

The story opens with Indie making a phone call to the Samaritans, a non-judgemental support helpline based here in the UK. We are not sure why Indie is making this call, but it's obviously very important for someone to listen to her. As she talks to the lady on the other end of the phone, she also talks to us, telling her story. I thought that the way this book was written was really effective. Although it's quite a heavy subject that's discussed, the writing never become too complex and it was very easy to follow, making this suitable for younger teens or young adults. I personally enjoy a little more complexity in stories, some more depth, but for a quick yet quite serious read, this was definitely satisfying. Although I do think that some of the book was a little unbelievable at times, for the most part it was realistic enough to easily enjoy. There were also quite a few twists and turns which kept me hooked.

As aforementioned, the characters are what make this book what it is. The story revolves around Indie's friendship with Suzie. Initially, Indie, nor anybody in her life, knew nothing about Suzie, apart from that she didn't have a permanent address. Indigo and Suzie seem to be opposites, but with Indie's determination and altruistic nature, she invites Suzie into her home and so a transformation begins. Rather quickly, Suzie starts to imitate Indigo, mostly through her appearance. Suzie decides that she wants a new name along with her new life, and so Suzie is born and a lot of trouble ensues. Indie and her boyfriend stumble into financial trouble after Suzie arrives and things spiral out of control. Truthfully, I thought it was obvious that Suzie would have to be somehow involved in their problems, but it was interesting to see how my feelings towards her changed as the story progressed. A very important thing to mention is that the author never seems judgemental - though at points the characters may seem like they're judging each other, it's clear that Higgins is not judging anyone, which I really admire. 

Overall, this book held my attention throughout and I enjoyed it. It was a page turner, holding my attention from start to finish. It wasn't a challenging book at all and so will be suitable for all young adult readers. Though it may not be liked by everyone, I personally liked how Higgins gave it a realistic ending - it wasn't exactly positive, but it was realistic to the situation in the book and to many other real-life debt situations. I will definitely aim to read more books by Higgins in the future.


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