Edwina Sparrow Girl of Destiny, by Carol Chataway

If you are reading this journal, then chances are I am already dead. My name is Edwina Sparrow. I am fifteen years old and my mother is trying to kill me. My mother has always been odd, but since Gran’s accident, things gave got far worse. I have decided to start keeping a journal to document the progress of my deranged mother because there may be a murder inquiry. Someone needs to leave a line of evidence.

Edwina Sparrow’s mother has put the whole family (Edwina, brother Julian and Gran) on a cabbage-only diet. Edwina’s father is in Antarctica and not expected home anytime soon. Gran had a nasty incident with a pressure cooker and is now convinced she’s living through the Second World War. At school, Edwina and others are targets of bully Krystal Shard and her cronies. And this is only the beginning. Julian’s on-screen romance flounders, Mum moves from the Cabbage Diet to the Fruit Diet and beyond, Gran thinks Edwina is her younger sister Emily and at school girls are falling like ninepins to diet-related conditions. Even her best friend McKenzie seems to be avoiding her. Edwina knows she could fix everything, if only people would listen to her sensible suggestions.

Edwina Sparrow Girl of Destiny is a wonderfully idiosyncratic example of the unreliable narrator inherent in first person narrative. Edwina thunders through her life, unaware of any viewpoint other than her own. She is a likeable character with the subtlety of a bulldozer. The journal allows us to get very close to this main character and to read between her lines to some of the challenges she’s facing. McKenzie is a great foil, with his search for his place in his family of all boys. Julian copes with the vagaries of their family in a much quieter way, but it is Edwina who solves the mystery that occupies all his thoughts. Krystal Shard is a nasty piece of work, manipulating her so-called friends with disastrous consequences.

Carol Chataway provides the reader with a warm and affectionate look into the mind of an ostensibly prickly teenager and subtly urges them to look beyond the obvious.

Highly recommended for Year 7-9 readers. Readers who enjoy this novel might also enjoy works by Jaclyn Moriarty and Melina Marchetta.


Edwina Sparrow Girl of Destiny, by Carol Chataway
Lothian Books 2007
ISBN 9780734409874