Wait a minute: how is it May already?! I swear New Year’s Eve was last week! *panics* One book I have been meaning to talk about for quite a while now is Margot & Me by Juno Dawson.
Margot & Me by Juno Dawson
Publication Date: 26 January 2017
Publisher: Hot Key Books
How can you hate someone in the present and love them in the past?
Fliss’s mum needs peace and quiet to recuperate from a long illness, so they both move to the countryside to live with Margot, Fliss’s stern and bullying grandmother. Life on the farm is tough and life at school is even tougher, so when Fliss unearths Margot’s wartime diary, she sees an opportunity to get her own back.
But Fliss soon discovers Margot’s life during the evacuation was full of adventure, mystery . . . and even passion. What’s more, she learns a terrible secret that could tear her whole family apart . . .
As someone who had enjoyed Juno Dawson‘s last YA novel, All of The Above, as well as her recent non-fiction book Mind Your Head, I couldn’t wait to read her latest YA novel Margot & Me. As I have said in previous reviews I enjoy World War II fiction, especially in a YA setting, and I loved the idea of a nineties teenager stumbling upon a wartime diary.
I was very lucky to receive a copy of Margot & Me from the amazing team at Hot Key Books to read and review, and I’m genuinely embarrassed that it has taken me so long to wrestle my thoughts into something coherent. Without further ado, let’s talk about the book!
Margot & Me follows Felicity, a teenage girl who moves from London to Wales to live with her grandmother. Felicity’s mum has been ill for a long time, and so they move to the Welsh countryside, where her mum can recuperate in peace and quiet. However, there’s no such thing as peace and quiet around Margot, Felicity’s bold and brash grandmother.
When you think of grandmothers, you imagine cuddly old ladies with mohair cardigans, tissues up their sleeves and an endless supply of Werther’s Originals. Kindly, peppermint scented women knitting in rocking chairs, right? Maybe even a blue rinse and wrinkly cheeks you just want to squidge! My other grandma fits this description in every way, but not Margot. Nope. Margot is something else.
From the first page, we see that Felicity and Margot often clash, due to Margot’s prickly and blunt nature. As you can imagine, living together means they butt heads more frequently. After one particularly bad argument, Felicity finds Margot’s old diary. Spotting an opportunity to get her own back at Margot, she begins to read the diary to see if she can find some secrets, almost to give her some “leverage” in future arguments. However, Felicity ends up becoming completely absorbed in the diary, a diary Margot wrote when she was evacuated to Wales from London during World War II. Margot’s diary details her settling into farm life, making friends and even falling in love.
First things first, I loved young Margot and her diary. She was bold, sassy, and didn’t have time for anyone’s nonsense. As we read her diary with Fliss, I grew to love present Margot too. I felt like her diary touched on some important issues, and personally speaking, I wish there had been MORE of the diary. For me, Margot is the star of the book.
With Felicity, or Fliss as she’s better known, I struggled to connect to her at first. I found her to be quite bratty, and a touch annoying. Then again, I don’t think she’s supposed to be likeable. She’s a young girl, who has been caring for her sick mum. She is now having to uproot to a new place, far away from her friends and everything she has known. Over the course of the novel, I was pleased to see Fliss change and mature, and towards the end of the novel I really felt for her. I even had a bit of a cry at one point! I loved how the two stories of Fliss in the present and Margot in the past were similiar, and in a way, linked together. They were both young girls, away from home in an unfamiliar environment, with their own issues and problems.
With regards to the other characters, there were a bit of a mixed bag. I loved Dewi and Bronwyn, in particular their little Welsh-isms. I didn’t particularly care for Danny, and I’m sure I won’t be alone in saying I HATED Megan.
Margot & Me is set during the nineties, and it made me feel nostalgic when I read references to things of that time such as MSN and chat rooms. I mean, Fliss is such a nineties name. I want more characters called Fliss. However, this also let the book down for me as I noticed references of going to Starbucks (I don’t recall Starbucks being a thing in the 90s) and there was even a mention of RuPaul, which I believed started in 2009?
I rated Margot & Me by Juno Dawson 4/5 stars on GoodReads as I found it to be a brave and emotional novel covering topics such as family, love, death, bullying and more. I read Margot & Me in one sitting during a rainy day, and it was honestly the best book to curl up with. I became completely sucked into Margot’s story, a bit like Fliss! With a few more bank holidays left this year, make sure to get your hands on a copy of Margot & Me, block out all non-urgent life commitments for a few hours and enjoy the journey you’re taken on.