Brave New Girl by Catherine Johnson

Seren wants everyone to be happy and so she gives her mum all the help she can, she looks after her younger brothers, pretends everything is fine at school and makes plans to help her older sister’s love life. The trouble is, although she means well, she often gets it wrong. When her well-meaning actions rebound on her, she tries to cope on her own but it’s not so easy. Seren needs to grow up. She needs to learn to take as well as to give, and she needs to be more aware of what is going on around her. Her friend, Keith, provides her with the support she needs to get her life back on track.

Seren is going through that difficult time in life when your friends from primary school have found new friends in secondary school and no longer need you. It’s a difficult time for anyone, but a slightly chaotic home life and a sister who is going through her own dramas makes it worse. The story provides a realistic insight into multicultural London, with the upcoming Olympics providing an interesting backdrop to the story. This is a straightforward book to read, gentle and realistic with a thoughtful message: teens, siblings and ex-friends can be very cruel to each other but what is important is believing in yourself, knowing who your friends are and making the most of what you have.

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