Book Review: Lilah May’s Manic Days by Vanessa Curtis

Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children’s Book

Published: 5th January 2012

Format: Paperback

Pages: 176

Genre: Contemporary, Junior Fiction

Recommended Reading Age: 11+

Rating: 8/10

Amazon/Goodreads

Lilah May used to be angry. VERY angry. But not any more. She’s got her temper – and her life – back under control. Or has she? Things with her best friend, Bindi, are going from bad to worse. The whereabouts of her brother Jay is still a mystery. And gorgeous Adam Carter is still out of reach. Groo! Can Lilah sort out her family, her friendship and her love life? Or is her anger about to reach all new levels? 

Two years ago, Lilah’s older brother, Jay, ran away after she caught him taking drugs. Since then, no one’s heard from him or knows where he is. Eaten up with guilt and worry, with her parents not coping well and her now ex-best friend dating the boy she likes, Lilah’s struggling to keep her anger until control again. Suddenly Jay comes home after sleeping rough on the streets, but it’s not quite a happy reunion she always imagined it would be.

Lilah May’s Manic Days is a very ‘readable’ story. Lilah’s voice is fresh, energetic and realistically young, and I was quickly drawn into her life, despite not having read the first book of this series.

Lilah is your typical teenager. She has tantrums, can be incredibly self-absorbed, she doesn’t always treat her best friend (sorry, ex-best friend) very well and is amusingly over dramatic on the subject, ‘my true love ran off with my true friend’. Everything is a big deal. But she’s such an engaging character, and she handles the difficult situation with her brother and Spud with maturity (for the most part), and sometimes with more wisdom, than her parents.

I particularly loved the scenes between Jay and Lilah, who you sense were once very close. Brother and sister are now strangers and there’s a lot of unresolved hurt and anger between them, especially on Lilah’s part. For a lot of the book, Lilah struggles with tiptoeing around her brother for fear of loosing him again, perhaps forever, and saying what she really feels. When things finally come to a head between them I was inwardly cheering Lilah on every step of the way.

The subplot with Bindi and Adam held less interest for me, probably because the family dynamic was so much more interesting and any scenes between Adam and Lilah all took place (I presume) in the previous book. I did, however, quite like Bindi, what little we see of her; as she tells Lilah a few home truths about her own behaviour.

This was a quick read that I enjoyed far more than I expected to and a great book for kids and young teenagers. It deals with some edgy subjects in an honest, open way and I loved reading a children’s book where the parents are developed characters in their own right and actively involved in the story and their kid’s lives. Lilah is fifteen in this book, but I would recommend this one for ages eleven upwards. Definitely worth reading!

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