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  • Fast-paced Young Adult Novel

    Legal Crime provides a foray into the mindset of a confused teenage girl called Fiona, who runs away from home to escape her previous life and reinvent herself as a singer. This may not sound too unusual at all until you realise that it is written by a 13 year old girl. I have to say that I am brimming with respect for the author, Samiksha Bhattacharjee. She has managed to create a book, which will appeal to its intended audience with its mean girls, attractive boys and all of the uncertainties, pressures and ambitions that dominate the life of a teenager. There is a vast array of characters, all of which have been brought alive with lively dialogue, littered with the slang and banter that young people exchange. It is fast moving throughout, the story told through recollections and diary entries as well as what is happening in the present. One thing that I noticed is that the action of the book is a little choppy for my liking, the use of flashbacks providing the back story in pieces and I sometimes felt that this could be made more smooth. There were times where I wasn’t totally certain of how the characters were connected and this sometimes hindered the clarity in my mind of the plot and its direction as well as their significance to it. I liked the quirkiness of the extra narratorial voice, chipping in with her observations and comments – this made me smile; I enjoyed her presence. But I think what is really accomplished about Bhattacharjee’s writing was her use of description. One example of this that will stay with me from the reading of this book and demonstrates her control and her command of word choices is shown in the vivid picture of a snake, the appearance of which is literally brought alive by her accomplished vocabulary and her mastery of word manipulation which moulds this snake into a tangible thing. Its menacing presence fairly leaps off the page. A true writing strength. With the theme of identity being so strong, I think this book has much to offer to most teens: you have Fiona’s own struggles; the mounting pressure of peers and their thoughts on how you should act and look; the idea of who you think you are as opposed to your true self; and finally, what you could be given the chance. This review was first published on Reedsy Discovery.

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  • This is the perfect read for Young Adults.

    For a debut novel by a thirteen-year-old author, this is an incredible achievement and the perfect read for young adults. It’s fast-paced and Bhattacharjee’s wonderful descriptions are very accomplished and dynamic for an author of her young years. Sixteen-year-old Fiona Watson feels snubbed by her parents who she believes favour her eight-year-old younger brother, Jack, and she decides to run away from home. She’s keen to become a singer and as the story unfolds, it’s clear that it is not just her parents that have led her to want to run away as she has clearly been having issues at school with her best friend, Luna, and the pressure she feels to hang out with the ‘popular girls’. Through her journey, she meets a wonderful group of friends who help her in discovering herself and deciding inevitably whether she should return home as she begins to regret her decision. But as she opens up, can Fiona, or as she now likes to be known, Isabelle Smith, truly trust these new friends and what secrets they are hiding. Fortunately for Fiona, her parents are hot on her tail and despite embracing the newly created persona of Isabelle Smith, she always returns to her familiar self, Fiona. On occasions, I did find it difficult to follow the story as the time-based jumps are sometimes a bit hard to follow but all in all, it’s incredibly imaginative for an author of her age and I think she has a wonderful future in writing. This is a lovely tale of friendship draped in an adventure story, with the theme clearly about identity. This book is perfect for teens and their struggles with the pressure of fitting in and how they should look, the force of destiny, and where it can lead. This is the perfect read for Young Adults.

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