Read Me Like a Book

304p. ebook available. Candlewick. Jun. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763681319.
Gr 9 Up—Ashleigh is entering her sixth-form year, and her life is in chaos. There are fights at home, her best friend has grown distant, and there's a possibility that she might have a real boyfriend for the first time. The strangest thing of all is that she's beginning to care about school, and it's all thanks to her English teacher, Miss Murray. Kessler has written about how this, her first novel, sat in a drawer unpublished for 15 years due to UK government restrictions on publishing gay and lesbian content for children and young adults. And it shows. This book feels dated, despite a veneer of modern references and technology. The writing does not feel vital, even when Ashleigh is discovering her sexual identity and her obsession with her teacher. For young Anglophiles, this look into British teen life will be welcome, but for those not already versed in British culture, the differences are stark and difficult to parse, including the mechanics of secondary schooling, attitudes toward drinking, and important class signifiers.
VERDICT An additional purchase.

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