By Dawn O’Porter, published by Hot Key Books.
Fifteen year olds Flo and Renée, high-school girls on Guernsey Island, were never really meant to cross paths. They’re totally different, and come from equally sad and harsh, but very different backgrounds. Flo lives with her mum who has separated from her father, and ends up looking after her baby sister instead of socializing all of the time, whereas Renée lives with her overly-strict grandparents and thirteen year old sister following her mother’s death years before. When they do meet,things will change for the both of them forever, as they form a friendship whilst experiencing the ups and downs of beings fifteen in 1994.
I was very curious about this debut, and didn’t really know what the events in it would be like. But, right from the first page, I was totally absorbed by this book and read pretty much all of it in one car journey. Renée and Flo’s voices both captured me from the start, and I really felt for them as the both went through some pretty traumatic times together. I really enjoyed the switching narratives between the protagonists- as it gave me a real insight into what one thought about the other. I though Paper Aeroplanes would be told from only one narrative, so that really surprised me… and it was pulled off really well, too. I loved both of the characters very much- their backgrounds were realistic and well-developed; as were their unique personalities. They were loveable, and easy to understand. I really loved reading their story and finding out how these two girls, Renée and Flo, form such a beautiful yet unlikely friendship, and also how they dealt with bullies like Sally!
The plot was really great; the events played out really well. there was always something really exciting happening in at least one of the girls’ lives, which made this book such a page-turning thrill ride. The story dealt with some really common themes in teenage life, not just in the nineties but today as well: exam stress, love, rebellion, peer pressure and home-life struggles. All of the events were realistic and understandable through the brilliant narratives. It was really sad, but at the same time the author has added in clever pinches of humor that liven it up.
Overall, this book was a totally stunning debut. It was powerful, thought provoking and emotional to me as a reader, and I think it will be like that to anyone who picks it up. Dawn O’Porter has captured teenage life expertly, and I wouldn’t have had this book any other way. It was a totally thrilling story, with so much emotion and drama packed into the pages- I didn’t believe it was a debut! A must for older teenagers and adults.