Me & Mr J – Rachel McIntyre

January 1st

Q. What do you give the fifiteen year old girl with no social life?

A. A diary!

Looks like someone did their Christmas shopping in the Ironic Gifts Department this year, eh, Gran? 

Happy New Year!” 

Lara is being bullied, but she cant tell anyone, because her family has gone through enough recently and her parents are only just making ends meet and getting things sorted she she can carry on going to the ‘good school’. She’s really smart but thats not something to brag about when your 16 and have no friends… at least not until Mr Jagger, the new English teacher comes along and it makes him notice her. Now she’s got Mr J to take her mind off the bullies maybe school will get better?

***

This book took me back to being 15 and reminded me how much of an emotional rollercoaster life could be. It was harsh and painful and honestly if I was in Lara’s situation I would struggle too and it was a perfect depiction of that awful time of life by the author.

Lara is in a predicament because her family has fallen apart since her fathers business went under. She knows that the sacrifices her parents have made have been mainly for her so she can keep going to the private school she is on scholarship at. Her mum is working as a cleaner, for her bully’s parents, and her dad is drinking himself into a stupor. Her life is awful and it just keeps getting worse. So OF COURSE she is going to take refuge where she can and that turns out to be with her teacher, following him like a puppy dog and helping him with everything in the hopes she can stay under his shadow and keep away from her bullies.

I really got sucked into this book and thought that the issues brought up were handled really well. I loved how things finished and the maturity shown by Lara right at the end. I did think that the ending was a bit rushed compared to the rest of the book but I still enjoyed it.

The diary format worked really well in Me & Mr J because there weren’t a great number of characters to focus on. Lara was a very lonely girl and the way she was able to talk to her diary made me feel like a character in the book itself. The way it gave a completely open view of Lara and her thoughts and feelings were brilliant and I really thought I got to know her as a friend. The other characters were mostly terrible but you could tell there was more to most of them than the diary allowed, Lara’s dad being one in particular that I felt sorry for. Mr J was an interesting character who really came across well in the diary but an outsiders view allowed me to step back and asses the situation in a way Lara wasn’t able to do.

Me & Mr J would have been a favourite of mine if I’d have read it at 15/16. I would have loved it and resonated so much with the main character. With an older mindset I was able to see the way out that Lara couldn’t see and I could keep myself quite separate from the story. I can still remember what I was like as an actual teen though and I think this is a perfect example of a YA book specifically aimed at teenagers.

Me & Mr J was published on January 29th 2015 by Electric Monkey. My copy was sent from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
 
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