And By the Way... by Denise Deegan - At Strandbrook College, we are Kids Of. Kids of diplomats, media stars, musicians, artists, actors, oh, and wealthy people who aspire to all of that. I'm the kid of a rock star. Means nothing to me.
When Mum died, six months ago, I didn't just lose her, I lost my dad, 'The Rockstar'. To work.
But now I don't trust anyone or rely on anyone. That way, I won't get hurt.
My best friend Rachel won't let me pull back though. And that's a problem.
Another one is David McFadden, a guy in my class (who calls me the Ice Queen). He says he wants to help. Six months ago, he could have - but he didn't. Now, it's too late. The very last person in the world I'm going to listen to is David McFadden. I'll show him who's Ice Queen.
When Keris Stainton first told me about And By the Way... for D&B Week, I didn't know what to expect. It sounded really good, but I hadn't heard of Denise Deegan before. I have to say, I judged the book by it's cover. When I opened it's pages, I was looking forward to what I expected would be a fluffy read, despite the topic. It's anything but fluffy. But it's completely fantastic!
I don't even really know where to begin. Alex is suffering terribly from the death of her mother six months ago. Her Dad pretty much acts like she doesn't exist, and she feels so alone. She has her friends, but she is so absolutely terrified of losing anyone else, she holds back from people. She doesn't share what she's feeling, she'll avoid socialising outside school. It's so difficult to read, because she is so unbelievably lost. There was a moment where I almost burst into tears on a bus. I'm not like Alex, nor is my Mum like Alex's, but they had the same kind of close, fun relationship I have with my Mum, and it just really hit home how devastated it is. She keeps herself behind think concrete walls and won't let anyone inside. Until David starts showing an interest, and just won't leave her alone.
I'm not going to say any more than that about the plot, I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but it's just brilliant. The book almost seems to be split up into several parts - the main one being before X and after X (and no, I won't tell you what X is). Yet there are several other ways you could break the story down, because so much happens. This book is about so much more than just Alex coping with her mother's death. Almost every important character in this book is dealing with some sort of problem. Relationship issues, family issues, self-esteem issues, loss in other ways. As I said, there's a lot going on, and it's terribly sad. I didn't cry while reading this novel, but that's simply because I way beyond crying. It was too sad to cry.
What I love is how we get to see several other people effected by grief, too - namely 'The Rockstar' and Alex's Gran. Her Dad doesn't function on anything other than work. That is his life now. Alex thinks it's because he just doesn't care, but it's the only way he's able to deal with things - though he doesn't realise how he's treating Alex. Gran stays at home all day with the curtains drawn. Alex is the only person she sees. It's only through hearing about Alex's life that she gets back her old spark back. It's all really sad.
There is one character in this book who, initially, I would quite like to beat to a pulp. However, as the book goes on we see more of his nicer side show. He doesn't really have much page time, but I found him to be quite interesting, a "more than meets the eye" character. I know this series is about the three friends, but I'd so love to see him with his own book!
I'm going to end this review with an anecdote. I was talking to my Mum about the book, how sad it was and how awful all the things that were happening were, and went to get myself some chocolate for comfort eating...
Mum: "You can make me a cup of tea while you're down there."
Mum: "It will cheer you up!"
Me: "Making you a cup of tea will cheer me up?"
Mum: "Yes! Because you CAN make me a cup of tea. I'm not dead."
Got to love her.
And By the Way... is a truely amazing and heart-wrenching novel that I couldn't put down. I absolutely loved it, and can't recommend it enough. I'm so looking forward to the sequel!
Thank you to Keris Stainton for lending me her copy.
Published: 17th February 2011
Publisher: Hachette Books Ireland
Buy on Amazon US
Denise Deegan's Website