Sunday, 20 September 2015

Sophie Someone by Hayley Long **Review**

Sophie Someone by Hayley Long
Series: None
Pages: 256
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Release date: 3rd September 2015
Buy: Book Depository | Amazon UK | Amazon US | Waterstones

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Goodreads synopsis:
A remarkable tale of confusion and betrayal - and a very special girl called Sophie.

'Some stories are hard to tell.
Even to your very best friend.
And some words are hard to get out of your mouth.
Because they spell out secrets that are too huge to be spoken out loud.
But if you bottle them up, you might burst.
So here's my story. Told the only way I dare tell it.'

Sophie Nieuwenleven is sort of English and sort of Belgian. Sophie and her family came to live in Belgium when she was only four or five years old, but she's fourteen now and has never been quite sure why they left England in the first place. Then, one day, Sophie makes a startling discovery. Finally Sophie can unlock the mystery of who she really is. This is a story about identity and confusion - and feeling so utterly freaked out that you just can't put it into words. But it's also about hope. And the belief that, somehow, everything will work out OK.

SOPHIE SOMEONE is a tale of well-intentioned but stupid parenting, shock, acceptance and, ultimately, forgiveness, written in a brave, memorable and unique language all of its own.

A friend of mine gave me her spare review copy of this book and told me it was a fantastic read and I should definitely read it soon. With a recommendation as stunning as that, how could I do anything else? I made it the next book on my list!

The most striking thing about this book is probably the very first thing that will strike any reader about it, and that is the language it's written in. The main character, Sophie, writes the story in her own 'special language' (as it is described on the back of the proof copy), and at first I was a little confused. The story starts with a question, "Who am I?", and Sophie then goes on to answer this by saying that she is the exact same pigeon she was when she was born. Of course, at first, I took this literally, and wondered why the main character was a bird. I soon realised, however, that Sophie's words are not so literal. After a couple of chapters, I had begun to get used to this, and despite the words being totally different from their intended meaning, it wasn't difficult to understand what she was saying.
Some of the words made me laugh quite a lot, especially in certain sentences, and some of them were oddly appropriate.
Some of my favourite 'Sophie words':
'Freckle' instead of 'friend'
'Noodle' instead of 'name'
'Tiddlywink' instead of 'ticket'
'Quibble' instead of 'question'
'Echo' instead of 'ear'
'Introvert' instead of 'internet'
'Bozo' instead of 'boy' (and 'bruiser' instead of 'brother')
'Bucket' instead of 'book' 
The replacement words such as 'introvert' instead of 'internet' actually seem quite appropriate, especially when put into context in the story. Sophie's mother never leaves their apartment, but spends a lot of time on the computer and on Facebook (or Faxbucket, as she calls it), so 'introvert' is quite appropriate really. There were a few other 'Sophie words' that I thought were quite clever in this way and actually did make me think about their meaning. I absolutely loved that about the book.

My one problem with the language that was used throughout the book is that I couldn't quite understand why it was written in that way ... I spent the entire book wondering about that, until the last few pages, when it finally became clear. The reason in itself was quite clever, and I really appreciated the entire book more once I'd finished it.

As for the story itself, I really enjoyed it. It wasn't a huge mystery – it's quite obvious what sort of thing is in Sophie's parents' past – but the story is less about the reader discovering what happened, and more about how Sophie finds out and how she copes with it. It was a very subtle story, and I loved every moment of it.
I warmed to Sophie very quickly and enjoyed spending time with her. She's strong and independent, and won't just accept the world around her without questioning it and finding its truth. I really admire that in a character.
Her parents are flawed, of course, and have a distinctly dodgy past. Despite that, you can't help but like her dad (or 'don' as she calls him); he's caring, gentle, considerate and has so much love for his family. Her mother (or 'mambo') is flawed in a different way and clearly has her own demons to deal with – I didn't like her quite as much, but I did find her to be an interesting part of the story and hoped that things would change with her.

I could go on forever talking about this book, I really could, but I think it's about time I told you to just read it and see for yourselves. This is a really special little book and one that I definitely think I will re-read at some point in the future. I will also be looking out for this author's next book. Absolutely fantastic; go read it!


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