Continuing on my Carnegie Medal Award journey, I picked up Ali Lewis’ Everybody Jam. As is evident from earlier posts on the shortlisted books, I am enjoying shadowing the awards and developing my knowledge of YA literature. The great thing about being part of a school book group is hearing about the pupils’ experience of reading these books and their personal opinions and recommendations. Bearing this in mind, I had high hopes for Everybody Jam as pupils and teachers alike were raving about it. Unfortunately I was left somewhat disappointed.
Everybody Jam is told from the perspective of 13-year-old Danny, who lives on a cattle farm in the Australian outback with his family. They are a family facing many difficulties, from the death of a child to teenage pregnancy to drought and hire a ‘Pommie’ housegirl to help them get things back on track.
To begin with I enjoyed the novel, probably because I wanted to know what had happened to Danny’s older brother, but once this mystery was solved I felt it was a bit of a chore to finish the book. I enjoyed the Australian lingo, but or me personally the constant reference to Liz as a ‘Pommie’ was annoying…I have worked in an Australian bar, know Australians and have even dated one, and yes they do refer to the English as ‘Pommies’ but I do not feel it is vital to mention it every single time the character appears; for me it makes her slightly unrealistic and just winds me up.
The narrative and the plot were just too slow and dragged for me.; I was wishing the end would hurry up and counting down the pages, something I haven’t done with the other books I have read for this award so far. I also found Danny irritating, and for a protagonist this is not a good sign. I don’t mind if I can’t relate to the protagonist or if they are ridiculously self obsessed or anything like that, I just need to feel some sort of emotion other than irritation.
But perhaps I am being unfair. I have had a hugely crazy week, what with teaching and a (successful) job interview yay, so I have probably been half here and half on another planet worrying about various things. In Lewis’ defence it is clear that she has written a hugely popular book, as all the pupils shadowing the awards have been singing its praises, it just hit the same chord with me. This just further reinforces the subjective nature of reading and the beauty of it; not everyone enjoys the same thing and that is what makes it amazing in my eyes.
Next step Between Shades of Grey. Once again I have heard lots of amazing things about this book (lots of pupils have been telling me how good it is when they see me carrying it) and I am praying this one doesn’t disappoint….I am sure it won’t!