Rating: 5/5 stars
Genre(s): Fiction; Contemporary; Young Adult; Historical Fiction
Format: Audiobook via BorrowBox – 11 hours 25 minutes. Read by Eilidh L. Beaton
Published: 26 January 2017 by Bolinda Audio
“How can you hate someone in the present and love them in the past?
Fliss’s mum needs peace and quiet to recuperate from a long illness, so they both move to the countryside to live with Margot, Fliss’s stern and bullying grandmother. Life on the farm is tough and life at school is even tougher, so when Fliss unearths Margot’s wartime diary, she sees an opportunity to get her own back.
But Fliss soon discovers Margot’s life during the evacuation was full of adventure, mystery…and even passion. What’s more, she learns a terrible secret that could tear her whole family apart….”
First of all: Does anyone else adore that cover as much as I do? It’s simple and lovely. June Dawson mashes contemporary YA with historical fiction in Margot & Me and the pairing works! I wasn’t prepared to fall for this audiobook so hard, but I did, and I couldn’t wait to continue listening to this before bed.
Margot & Me opens with Fliss (Felicity) heading to the farm where her grandmother lives. Given that Fliss grew up in London, she has an English accent. My image of the scene from Friends where Phoebe comments on Emily’s accent keeps running on a loop in my mind. I have to say the book and characters come alive with Eilidh’s reading.
Fliss’s narration and dialogue are littered with ‘teen slang’ such as ‘as if’, ‘like’, ‘friggin’, ‘gross’, ‘whatever’, and ‘see ya wouldn’t wanna be ya’. She thinks very little of farms and countryside, asks for internet, talks about music, boys, and fashion, and most of all detests Margot her grandmother. This book is set in 1997/8 so references to social media are nonexistent. Instead, there is a hat tip to polyphonic ringtones at the end of the book (What a throwback! 😂). Fliss sounds like a pretty average teenager except for the fact that her mom’s recovering from cancer, which is the whole reason they’re going to live on the farm with Margot; to escape from the hectic city life.
One day when looking for something in the attic, Fliss stumbles across Margot’s diary that she wrote in when she was 16. The days in Margot’s diary was set during the Hitler days, and Fliss discovers that Margot is a Blitz survivor. Fliss also discovers through this diary that she actually liked the teenage Margot and that they had a lot in common, but Margot is so different now and Fliss wonders what happened to her that could make her seem like a different person altogether?
Fliss has her ups and downs like other characters, not perfect obviously and I don’t expect her to be, so there are some questionable things she did, which I’m absolutely alright with because hey, what teenager does everything perfectly? However, I don’t know how I feel about Fliss sharing the diary with her friends. Well, I do really – it’s a breach of Margot’s privacy: the number one thing that most teenagers demand. This made me dislike her a little.
However, there were plenty of things I loved in Margot & Me. First of all, there are some tear-jerking moments towards the end that I listened to breathlessly. There’s also Thom the handsome librarian with strawberry blonde hair. I’ve never seen a real guy librarian in front of my eyes so this was fresh to me, at least. Then, there’s the library itself: There’s a tree trunk decorated with fake leaves written with people’s favourite books. I wish they had this at my school 😭. Above all, I adore the message that the author underlined:
“Let yourself feel the pain before it’s too late.”
It’s a healthy message and readers would do well to remember it. Too often I see people trying to push it down just to show they have a thick skin, but the pain often surfaces anyway and they lash out (unfortunately) to people they love.
What audiobook/podcast are you listening to right now?
This book ticks off item(s) from my reading challenges this year!
✅ 2: Historical (2018 Full House Reading Challenge)
✅ 36: A book set in the decade you were born (2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge)