Paper Aeroplanes by Dawn O’Porter
Paper Aeroplanes is a story about friendship and being a teenage girl. Renee and Flo are finishing their GCSEs at an independent, all-girls school on the small island of Guernsey. Their families have suffered break-ups and deaths, and they’re not coping very well. Both girls are desperately lonely and struggling with awfully bullying friendships, overbearingly sexist brothers, difficult parents and carers, boyfriends and puberty.
The novel’s appeal is in its depiction of schoolgirl friendships, the highs and the lows, and the really nasty bits too. A warm, frank tone, with a few funny and emotionally teary moments, is mixed in with crudely graphic yet honest representations of puberty and sex. Many of the characters make choices that impact on both themselves and other people, and have long term consequences.
Paper Aeroplanes has been viewed as brutally honest - it is definitely mortification highway! (Thankfully), Renee and Flo’s experiences were more embarrassing than anything I ever experienced at school and the novel may present some extremes. The narration from both Renee and Flo’s perspectives was interesting although the two voices were not very distinctive . I frequently got lost as to what was happening to whom.
Inspiration for the novel came from the author’s teenage diary and there is a nostalgic and self-indulgent element to the novel that offers a strong appeal to readers who were teenage girls in the 1990s. I’d say it was aimed at these readers as well as young adults. If you're younger and haven't read Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume, I'd probably start there first.
Reviewed by M
Publication details: Hot Key Books, May 2013, London, paperbackThis copy: uncorrected proof received for review from the publisher