Saturday, 6 May 2017

A Diversified Bookcase with Penny Joelson

A Diversified Bookcase is a feature where authors of diverse YA recommend other diverse YA novels by other authors - sometimes to us, sometimes to their characters. Today Penny Joelson, debut author of UKYA novel I Have No Secrets, is stopping by to recommend some books to protagonist, Jemma.

Penny Joelson

The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and in particular the way it made me think about how much we rely on our memories (even though mine is terrible!) and how hard it is to make sense of life when you can’t remember the past. I think my character Jemma, who has cerebral palsy, would enjoy it too as Flora’s experience is so different to her own but still disabling in another way. Jemma relies so much on her memory and observations that she would find it hard to imagine life with amnesia. The book also made me think about memory in relation to communication – how hard it is to communicate with others when you can’t remember what has happened. The one memory Flora has – of being kissed - is powerfully symbolic and the catalyst for an exciting adventure. One other link with Jemma’s experience in ‘I Have No Secrets’ is being treated like a much younger child. For Flora it is her mother who is infantilising her while for Jemma it is other people. The frustration of this for Flora comes across very strongly. I loved the twists and turns of the story and Flora’s unreliability as a narrator. We know about her amnesia so we can’t be sure she is seeing things correctly. A thought-provoking and entertaining read.



The State of Grace by Rachael Lucas

The State of Grace by Rachael Lucas

This book gives a powerful portrayal of life with Asperger’s and in particular the difficulties in dealing with over-stimulation in the environment – bright lights, noises, distractions etc. These things that most of us can block out are highly intrusive for Grace, making school life and social situations such as parties or bowling very difficult. Yet Grace is a teenager, with a close friend, a desire for romance and an interest in things common to all teenagers. She finds it hard to make sense of what is going on at home and as we are in her viewpoint we experience things solely from her perspective which is eye-opening. I think Jemma would be surprised by what is going on in Grace’s head – just as many people would be surprised to know what is going on in Jemma’s mind. This is the power of a book written from a close viewpoint of someone whose external behaviour does not reflect their complex internal thought processes.

   - ‘I Have No Secrets’ a YA thriller by Penny Joelson is published by Egmont on May 4th 2017.

For a sneak preview you can read a few chapters at the back of Michael Grant’s World Book Day £1 book, ‘Dead of Night’!


Thank you, Penny, for the recommendations! I still have The One Memory of Flora Banks to read, and I'm looking forward to reading it even more, now!

Visit Penny of her website, follow her on Twitter, and check out her debut novel, I Have No Secrets!

I Have No Secrets by Penny Joelson
I Have No Secrets by Penny Joelson
(4th May 2017, Electric Monkey)


Jemma knows who did the murder. She knows because he told her. And she can't tell anyone.

Fourteen-year-old Jemma has severe cerebral palsy. Unable to communicate or move, she relies on her family and carer for everything. She has a sharp brain and inquisitive nature, and knows all sorts of things about everyone. But when she is confronted with this terrible secret, she is utterly powerless to do anything. Though that might be about to change...

A page-turning thriller seen through the eyes of a unique narrator, this is a truly original, heart-rending and compulsive book for young adult readers. Perfect for fans of Wonder, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and Looking for JJ.
From Goodreads.


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