Lia’s guide is a really good, funny novel written by Keren David. We are big fans of her other books, ‘When I was Joe’ and ‘Almost True,’ so were interested to see how she would write a different kind of book. Keren visited the group a few months ago and talked to us about ‘Lia,’ read a few excerpts and showed us a mock-up of the cover. Her publisher, Frances Lincoln sent over some preview copies and we have been reading it together this term.
The girls really like the cover, they like the fact that it is simple and uncluttered and captures the story perfectly. As they said - If you won the lottery – you would go straight out shopping and update your look! The cover reflects the fact that the book is aimed at an older teenage audience, as some of the content is more adult.
The girls didn’t like the character of Lia initially, as they found her vain and self-obsessed, but felt this was totally realistic as she is a teenager and is going through a very extraordinary experience, which is revolutionising her life. They also didn’t like the way she treated her friends, Shaz in particular. They were unsure about Raf, and a little disapproving of Lia’s relationship with him.
Shaz was the most popular character; they found her very believable and as Muslims, they could relate to her principles – indeed her refusal to accept a gift which resulted from gambling provoked a lot of discussion. They felt she was a very good friend to Lia, really cared about her and gave her good advice, particularly about Raf, which Lia didn’t always appreciate.
They felt the book was really well written and liked the fact that it was written in the first person (as is ‘When I was Joe’) as it enabled them to really get into the life and feelings of the main character. They thought it was difficult to write comedy that works for teenagers, but this was a success as it made them laugh a lot. They liked the ending of the book and thought Lia writing a book within a book was a good idea. They particularly liked the snippets at the beginning of each chapter, which were taken from Lia’s eventual book.
The book provoked a lot of discussion about religion, money and the lottery in particular. Most of the girls felt that sixteen was too young to be playing the lottery and that it was not good for one person to have so much money. The book shows how many problems this can throw up and how it can make a person question other people’s motives and behaviour. Despite being a comedy, the book also raises several important issues.