Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
Published: 13th June 2019
Tabby Brown is tired of trying to fit in. She doesn't want to go to parties - in fact, she would much rather snuggle up on the sofa with her favourite book. It's like she hasn't found her people ...
Then Tabby joins a club that promises to celebrate books. What could go wrong? EVERYTHING - especially when making new friends brings out an AWKWARD BUZZING feeling all over her body.
But Olivia, Cassie, Henry and Ed have something that makes Tabby come back. Maybe it's the Austen-themed fancy-dress parties, or Ed's fluffy cat Mrs Simpkins, or could it be Henry himself ...
Can Tabby let her weird out AND live THE BEST BOOKISH LIFE POSSIBLE?
'The Paper & Hearts Society' by Lucy Powrie is a book that I would like to press into the hands of every teenager. It highlights the ups and downs of growing-up in a time when social media is everywhere and the pressure to fit in is sometimes overwhelming. There was so much about the story and characters that I identified with and I think the majority of readers will feel exactly the same. I read it in one sitting and was really, really impressed with Powrie's debut.
The story is about teenager Tabby Brown, who at the beginning of the book, has moved to a new area with her family. She's staying with her Gran, while her Mum and Dad pack up their old house. She's browsing books in the library one day when she comes across a flyer for a new book club. She's initially hesitant about going along but her Gran thinks it will be a good opportunity for her to make new friends and soon the club becomes the start of a whole new chapter in Tabby's life.
Tabby is a wonderful main character because she's just so real and relatable. She worries about fitting in with a group of friends that have already known each other for years and have a shorthand that she doesn't initially know. Although Olivia, Henry and Ed are warm and welcoming, she doesn't get off to the best start with Cassie who seems to resent her presence. Her anxiety about joining in with an established friendship group is something that I suspect most people have experienced at some point or another. Although it initially feels awkward, I thought that it was brave of Tabby to keep trying and to acknowledge that it would take time to properly fit in. As well as Tabby, I particularly liked the two boys: Henry and Ed. They have quite different personalities but they both help Tabby to feel more comfortable and at ease and are straightforward, easy-going characters.
There are lots of different themes explored in the book. One is the power and pressure of social media and how it can be used as a tool for bullying. I'm really glad that I didn't grow up with social media and some of the technologies that we have today. I love Instagram and Twitter, but they can be extremely invasive and I felt for Tabby and what she goes through.
I LOVE the fact that 'The Paper & Hearts Society' celebrates books and reading and makes it cool to be obsessed with buying a stack of new books, or visiting literary landmarks or having an Austen-themed fancy dress party. I know exactly how the characters feel when they express their love of a particular author and plan an exciting road trip to see some famous literary cities. I've visited both Bath and Stratford Upon Avon many, many times and could share their excitement and awe because that's exactly the way I've felt in the past when I've visited Shakespeare's grave or seen the house where Jane Austen resided. I really need to plan my own trip to Haworth now!
This is a gem of a book which has a fresh contemporary voice and exemplifies all the best qualities of the Young Adult genre. I felt like I was reading about myself at times which is a characteristic you don't often come across. This was a 5 star hit for me and I can't wait to read the next book in the series.
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