Review #4: Making Friends with Alice Dyson by Poppy Nwosu
Published by Wakefield Press
Do you like reading for pleasure? Settling down in the 40-degree heat with a plate of turkey roast, an overworked air conditioner and a book that you know you’re going to enjoy? If the answer is yes, then make sure Making Friends with Alice Dyson in your Christmas stocking.
On the surface this is a traditional YA love story between nerdy good-girl Alice and the schools bad-boy Teddy Taualai. Alice is busy working hard at her schoolwork, Teddy is busy trying to get Alice to notice him, and when a video of them dancing together goes viral it seems that Alice just can’t get rid of him. Add in a drunken party and a best friend who wants to be popular and you have all the elements of classic teen romance.
If Making Friends with Alice Dyson was nothing more than ‘girl meets boy’ it would still be a beautifully written love story but Poppy Nwosu gives us so much more than that. As the title hints this book is as much about friendship as it is about love. As Alice says: ‘It makes me wonder if that’s all love is, just the same as being friends.’
There’s an earthy realism to Nwosu’s writing that balances the essential sweetness of the story. Images like Teddy Taualai crunching an apple, all sweaty from playing soccer, or the messy aftermath of a drunken party complement the romance to create a book that is not only heart-warming but both solid and sweet, like a well-cooked cinnamon bun.
And I loved how emotionally brave her three main characters were. Teddy is so exuberant, so willing to admit what he feels that it’s no wonder Alice can’t shake him off. And May, her best friend, makes mistakes and admits them. Her lines to Alice after May’s attempted romance are some of my favourite in the book: ‘But I don’t regret liking him…No obviously I regret liking him because he’s an idiot, but I don’t regret that I did like someone.’
Alice talks a lot about how overwhelmed she feels, about how much braver May is than her and yet we see her grow into a girl who will take chances for love. Not the stupid, immature chances that lead to tragedy but the courageous decision to work at a relationship that is worth fixing. And she holds onto her own dream s while she makes places in her heart for her friends. Now that is a heroine worth imitating.
Sweet and solid, real and brave, this is a book worth reading. So, before the year ends get into a bookshop and pick up a copy, you won’t regret it.