Something More, by Mo Johnson

‘Where is she, Isla?’
Terry barged her way into my room, slamming the door so violently that Mr Jingles the sting puppet fell to the floor in a tangled heap.
‘What have you done with Mitsy, you cow?’
Ignoring her, I began to do a mental count. By three she was fuming. By eight, her skull was about to blow off. I leant back in my chair, ready to say the last digit out loud. ‘Tenahhh!’ Unfortunately, I overbalanced and crashed to the ground. That’s the trouble with wheelie chairs: they’re great for spinning, but the minute you get the loading wrong you’re road kill.

A year ago, Isla and her family moved from Scotland to Australia. Mum and Dad are settled, her combative just-younger sister Terry can almost talk Australian, but Isla is still struggling. She misses her feisty, advice-wielding grandmother and her best friend. She also misses Brian, her old boyfriend. She said it would be easier for them to have a clean break an no contact. Add to that the fact that everything here seems to revolve around swimming pools and she can’t swim. Isla feels she is living a half-life. Her physical self might be here, but her heart is ever-winging its way back to all she left behind. Not that there aren’t potential compensations here. Her art class is great, and includes Sam (dreamy boy) and Jack (intriguing boy). But then Terry reveals a serious secret, one too big for her to manage alone. It’s time for Isla to make some decisions about how and where she belongs.

Something More is about coming to terms with life changes. At a time when every teenager is struggling to make sense of their lives, their selves, when every decision seems super-important, Isla discovers that some decisions are more significant than others. Isla tells her story in first person, but others offer their perspective very clearly in their direct speech and their actions. Isla’s view of the world, and her place in it, opens up through the novel. It’s clear to the reader from the beginning that her personality is a strong one and her perspective true, but Isla herself takes her time to grow into her new skin…to become something more. There are elements of early romance in this and other Girlfriendfiction titles but there is much more. The plot is fast-moving and realistic. Although much of the drama involves Terry, it’s is Isla’s journey and she keeps the reader close by her the entire time. Recommended for early- to mid-secondary readers.

Something More (Girlfriend Fiction)

Something More (Girlfriend Fiction), Mo Johnson
Allen&Unwin 2009
ISBN: 9781741755282

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

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