Dear Lupin by Roger and Charlie Mortimer

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The book has also been turned into a play, which had a successful run at the Apollo Theatre

 

Dear readers,

Some say the message is medium: Dear Lupin is a collection of letters that span nearly 25 years, and through this form offer the most intimate insight into the Mortimers’ lives. If intimate is the right word- it seems like multiple opportunities to be delighted at the sheer hilarity of it is more suitable.

Letters. Seems dated now, doesn’t it? Something you only tend to at Christmas out of obligation, not because the simple act offers any sort of satisfaction. (I bet many people have said the same about over-indulging in mince pies, but there you go.) Here, it conveys admirably parental despair. In reality, nothing in our modern day with the prevalent technology could genuinely reveal to the same depth any relationship. Imagine being a historian, sifting through the one line texts. There’s no detail behind what we communicate now, because who has time to go into the neighbour’s health? Why bother? It’s this offhand thinking that not makes it difficult not only for people in the future to discern who we really are, but it makes life clouded for ourselves when we can’t even engage with each other. What does anything mean to us?

Roger Mortimer typically humoured the pages with self-deprecation or painstaking accurate remarks. “Doubtless you regard me as monumental bore, tolerated only at times because I fork out some cash, but senile as I am I probably know a bit more about you and your friends than you seem to realise” Hm. Bet a lot of parents today would be much more success in talking to their children if they realised in themselves these words.

Anyway, it is rather clear to see that although Charlie entertained a school career at Eton, it wasn’t exactly the most successful, as he was constantly reminded to try and get through a term “without a chorus of disapproval and despair from the unfortunate masters who have to try and teach you something.” Joyfully Charlie moves through life though, and it’s almost bizarre, like watching a time-lapse of a plant, to see the style and tone of the letters change. One moment it’s from a reprimanding father, another it’s from a more- well, still reprimanding father, but with a rather letter edge to the words.

“Dear Charles,                                                                                                                                        I am very impulsive. Your mother is also very impulsive. That is quite enough for one family. Let us have a little… deliberation from you. So to start with, get rid of that motorbike. I did not give you £40 for that, as you well know!”

But, like everything, things start to break down and crumble, and although the earlier letters were cheerful and lighthearted, punctuated with concerns, the hilarity seeps away towards the end of the collection, where above all Roger voices his fears of ageing, of dying. It is poignant and raw- often a gruff acceptance of fate that retells all our own fears. This is a book which will not only inspire you to laughter and morose reflection, but to start writing letters again yourself.

Best wishes,

Melrose

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When We Collided by Emery Lord

This novel is a classic summer love story with a difference; not only does contain moments of unrivalled hilarity and it’s counterpart bitter sadness, but it stars two damaged teenagers struggling to face their scarred past in a demanding, unforgiving world.

when we collided

It is finally Summer again, and Vivi is new to Verona Cova, and is a vacationer, as they are known to the townies (the people who live in Verona). Whilst working in a pottery shop, Vivi, a burst of colour who refuses to be tied to reality by her medication, comes across Jonah and his younger sister. Jonah is a slowly recovering; his father recently died, leaving his mother to recoil into encompassing grief, and now rarely leaves the safety of her bedroom. Chirpy and energetic though he may seem, Jonah feels excruciatingly weary from the strain of now sharing the role being the parent, and looking after his other siblings , especially since he is only 17. So when he meets Vivi, he is fascinated by her optimistic take on the universe, flamboyant nature and creative ecstatic mind. And Vivi loves how Jonah cares for his younger siblings, and his tender, thoughtful nature. But they belong on different planets; Vivi is a dreamer and can never be pinned down, whilst Jonah is always trying to be responsible, always trying  do the right thing. So when the two planets so different collide, it is clear that this inexplicable attraction between them will have consequences. But to what extent?

I thought that the title was a shame because it does not reflect the novel honestly enough to do it justice! In some ways, the title is completely irrelevant, because it is never referred to once in the novel, and to add to that, it is cliche! Every other love story has a slightly metaphorical, romantic sounding name like that, so the title in my opinion drags the novel down instead of exalting it, which is a shame because I love the novel and I think that it deserves better.

The novel is written in the contemporary style of alternative points of view, switching between the two protagonists Vivi and Jonah.  I adored the novel and thought that it was fantastic until I reached roughly second half; then it became saturated with the details of Vivi’s bipolar disorder: there were some awesome sentences in the first half, where I thought that the imagery created was incredibly strong, even for the such abstract ideas mentioned, but as I neared the end of this novel, this writing flair displayed earlier quickly dissolved, as Lord tried to handle everyone’s reaction to her disorder. Having said that, you will fall in love with the essentially flawed characters as they try and navigate themselves through their darker times, and always try to find that the perspective of hope wherever they go.

It was a fairly typical plot ( wild girl + good boy= fun filled summer), so nothing completely revolutionary will take place, but the characters were developed enough, and the plot was well written, so despite not being ground-breaking, it is definitely worth a read (if you are interested in this side of YA literature). Also, it wasn’t the fact that Vivi was bipolar that set this novel apart, because increasingly there are characters with mental illnesses featured in novels, but the quirk of Vivi loving the whole of Jonah’s family, not just him exclusively, which evolved this love story to becoming much more exclusive.  Aside from that, it was slightly unoriginal, it must be said (e.g skinny dipping happens in most of these types of novels, ice creams on the beach, sneaking into rooms…).

This novel is perfect for a relaxing holiday read, where you can sink into the romance, sea and sunshine, particularly as it is not an overly taxing mentally. I would recommend that the target audience for this novel be teenagers.