Saturday, 29 October 2011
Review of c.j. Skuse's Pretty Bad Things
As a lecturer in creative writing at the University of Winchester there is a second year module which I teach on entitled ‘Textual Intervention’ where we encourage students to look at stories, fairy tales etc and ‘intervene’ with them. Pretty Bad Things is a perfect example of this. The ‘intervention’ with Grimms’ Hansel and Gretal, is inspired. I have to say the grandmother is one of the most evil characters I have come across recently. A perfect witch. There were many times when I wondered how low could she go?
Skuse has produced two main characters with really strong yet distinctive voices. The story is told in the first person and the chapters alternate between Paisley and Beau so you get a balanced view of everything that goes on. I have to confess there were times when I wanted to slap Paisley but her desperation is so apparent that by the end you can almost forgive her anything. Talking of the ending, it is not predictable and neither is it sugar coated. This is a story full of emotion and effectively shows the turmoil of being a teenager. It also gives you, as the reader, that opportunity to vicariously experience being the rebellious teenager you always wanted to be.
This is a good and challenging read. Give it a go!
Whilst writing this review it has been a perfect autumn day so I thought this would be a perfect piece of music to finish on. Justin Hayward lived next door to a close family friend and this has so many memories of those times so this is for Aunt Syl and all the laughter from those times.