Review: Thornhill by Pam Smy

“We are the voiceless ones.”

Parallel stories set in different times, one told in prose and one in pictures, converge as a girl unravels the mystery of the abandoned Thornhill Institute next door.

1982: Mary is a lonely orphan at the Thornhill Institute For Children at the very moment that it’s shutting its doors. When her few friends are all adopted or re-homed and she’s left to face a volatile bully alone, her revenge will have a lasting effect on the bully, on Mary, and on Thornhill itself.

2017: Ella has just moved to a new town where she knows no one. From her room on the top floor of her new home, she has a perfect view of the dilapidated, abandoned Thornhill Institute across the way, where she glimpses a girl in the window. Determined to befriend the girl and solidify the link between them, Ella resolves to unravel Thornhill’s shadowy past.

Told in alternating, interwoven plotlines—Mary’s through intimate diary entries and Ella’s in bold, striking art—Pam Smy’s Thornhill is a haunting exploration of human connection, filled with suspense.

This tale set in alternate times, one told in words and the other in drawings, sounded right up my alley when I discovered it back in May. In particular because it reminded me a lot of  Brian Selznick’s Wonderstruck, which had a similar format of storytelling that I loved. Unlike that one, though, Thornhill is a creepy and disquieting ghost story. That is to say: I was racing to finish reading it before sunset because I’m not about to be scared out of leaving my bedroom… again, since ghosts are one of my greatest fears, thanks to watching the horrendous film called The Sixth Sense at night when I was just eight years old. (I thought at the time that I was brave and cool and that it wouldn’t be as eerie as the blurb made it seem.) (Oh, how wrong I was.)

“I like the noise of being surrounded by a group. It’s as though there are little stories whizzing around—dreams of pop groups and boyfriends, gossip about eyeliner and shoes and teachers. I don’t have to join in, but still I feel part of their gang—on the edges looking in, watching, listening, but happy to be included.”

Circling back to the book, a pleasant surprise came to me with the drawings, which wasn’t what I expected in terms of style before reading. I feel like ages have passed since I last sat down and enjoyed a proper book. But I was a bit disheartened to see that the art was on the lower side compared to the prose. Overtime, I actually came to look forward most to what the story would convey through these black and white drawings.

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But for now I’m definitely on the lookout for a more lighthearted read after the eeriness left by Thornhill. I mean, that ending surely raised the hair on the back of my neck. Shudders.

3/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Thornhill, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

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Review: Hortense and the Shadow by Natalia O’Hara, Lauren O’Hara

Hortense hated her shadow. Everywhere she went, it went. Everything she did, it did. And every time night fell it grew, tall and dark and crooked.

So Hortense decided: the shadow must go! Only later, alone in the wolfish woods, she learned that a girl without a shadow is far smaller… a fairy tale about light and shadows. 

I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump this week, so this swift picture book couldn’t have come at a more perfect time to save me. I was even more surprised to discover that not only was it full of brilliant and darkly illustrated pages, I cherished immensely the message it put across to its readers, both young and old. Plus, the rhyming was another key point for my adoration.

And here’s what I mean when I talk about how the art will leave you reeling:

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ARC kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Expected publication: October 5th, 2017

3/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Hortense and the Shadow, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

Review: Bunk 9’s Guide to Growing Up by Adah Nuchi

“The Sisterhood needs to know!”

Exclaimer: As a big sister, but foremost as a female, I’m over the moon excited that guides like Adah Nuchi’s, full of girl power, exist in the world for all to read from young to old.

Based on the lively conceit that it’s written by nine older girls at a fictional summer camp who share their collective been-there, done-that experiences, Bunk 9’s Guide to Growing Up is a puberty book with a twist, an entertaining, up-to-date, supportive guide that covers the head-to-toe changes that young girls go through as they grow up.

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I don’t know how, but before starting Bunk 9’s Guide I’d somehow forgotten for a minute there that my little sister is set to go through puberty pretty soon, just like all the youngins, which to be frank still blows my mind. So knowing that I now have the opportunity to share this noteworthy, feminist guide to help even a little in the near future is something that definitely takes the weight off my shoulders.

“One of the best things about womanhood is sharing your experiences with other women…”

This realistic and all-inclusive read feels like a mix for fans and young readers of Judy Blume and Rookie Mag. That is to say: it’s a great way to start the conversation between parents/ guardians and their kids going through puberty. I truly wish I had something similar to rely on in my times of heavy confusion in everything relating my life during puberty. This felt like some much-needed closure. So I’m thankful for the umpteenth time for the existence of Bunk 9’s Guide to Growing Up with its pun-worthy title chapters and it being out there for readers in need.

Conversations circling the topics of puberty, hygiene, breasts, menstruation and the reproductive system, boys, health, and feelings… We also have mentions of period parties, treating pimples/zits/acne, social media, crushes and hormones, and how to “get through friendships, parents that drive you crazy, and new crushes…” Bunk 9's Guide to Growing Up 2-- bookspoilsI’m beyond excited and grateful with every fiber of my being that this fun, comforting, and enlightening read is out there ready to give you the support you need.

And to end this review, I’d like to share this fitting and hilarious Christine Sydelko vine on puberty:

ARC kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Expected publication: December 19th, 2017

4/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Bunk 9’s Guide to Growing Up, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!