Posted by: janesandell | April 10, 2013

The Boy From France by Hilary Freeman

I always have a huge pile of books at home waiting to be read but, at the moment, I have two!  They’re a random mixture of children’s books I might review, teenage ones I either like the look of or think might be popular (usually two entirely separate categories!), adult novels and books I’ve bought to add to my collection.  I’m working my way through them very slowly, not helped by the fact that I’ve spent a lot of time rereading old favourites lately.

However, today I have read a whole book.  It’s been on the pile for a while and it might fit into three categories.  The Boy From France by Hilary Freeman is probably aimed at girls from a mature ten to about thirteen so I might well include it in my next lot of reviews for The Scotsman.  It counts as a teenage novel that (i) I like and (ii) might be popular!

It’s set in contemporary London (Camden, to be exact) and is superficially a romance between a local girl and her school exchange guest – the boy from France.  As a romance, however, it’s pretty slight and, were it no more, wouldn’t merit a mention.  Refreshingly, the heroine Vix lives with both her parents, who’re married to each other and have been since before she was born.  (Sometimes reading fiction for young people you’d think that no-one lived in such a family these days!).  They love each other and she loves both of them.  But her Mum has MS, rapidly progressing and Vix’s life is different because of that.

Hilary Freeman handles Vix well.  We see her conflicted feelings, the subtle, but real, pressure on her, her relationships with her parents and her two best friends and the knowledge bubbling under that someday soon something will have to give.  And it is Xavier, the boy from France, who is the catalyst.

The Boy From France isn’t a long book and it isn’t deeply meaningful.  It is, however, well-written, easy to read and enjoyable.  Vix, her family and friends are well defined individuals who interact believably.  And the book has just enough substance to make it thought-provoking for young girls, regardless of their circumstances.

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