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Award- winning Jenny Downham launched her career with Before I Die. The story of a young girl facing death, it showed a bold author who could write sensitively about a subject that could easily be sensationalised. In Unbecoming she adopts a similarly direct approach to coping with dementia, the breakdown of marriage and discovering adolescent sexuality as faced collectively and individually by three generations of women in a family. When Katie’s grandmother, whom she has always been told is dead, turns out to be alive and coming to live with them, it begins the discovery of secrets that changes everything in her life. Katie’s grandmother Mary has dementia; she is gradually loosing memories from her past. And yet, looking after her while her mother works, Katie finds that the memories that Mary retains help her to unlock secrets from her mother’s past while also liberating her own feelings and enabling her to speak truthfully at last. An ambitious story that is told across a time span of fifty years, Unbecoming swoops in and out of the lives of the three women reflecting both their enormous differences and their inextricable bonds. Mary’s dementia and increasing confusion is painful but Jenny Downham is touching in her account of it; the effect of it on Katie is optimistic but not unconvincing.
“Unbecoming is an astonishing feat of storytelling, a life-affirming book about identity and desire and learning to honour your own stories. It’s searingly honest and completely unputdownable.” - David Fickling
One of our Books of the Year 2015
Three women - three secrets - one heart-stopping story.Katie, seventeen, in love with someone whose identity she can't reveal.Her mother Caroline, uptight, worn out and about to find the past catching up with her.Katie's grandmother, Mary, back with the family after years of mysterious absence and 'capable of anything', despite suffering from Alzheimers.As Katie cares for an elderly woman who brings daily chaos to her life, she finds herself drawn to her. Rules get broken as allegiances shift. Is Mary contagious? Is 'badness' genetic?In confronting the past, Katie is forced to seize the present. As Mary slowly unravels and family secrets are revealed, Katie learns to live and finally dares to love.
Funny, sad, honest and wise, Unbecoming is a celebration of life, and learning to honour your own stories.
Teens love to read and so in addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Lovereading4kids Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can read their full reviews by clicking here.
Praise for Before I Die and You Against Me:
"Destined to drive hundreds of thousands of readers to tears and to swift injunctions to all their friends to read it" - Observer
"Downham's prose is brave and bare, her characters relentlessly realistic" - Sunday Telegraph
“Tough but tender....Moving and heart-wrenching” - Independent
“A heart-stopping first novel” - New York Times
“An unflinching portrayal of love under pressure” - Publishers Weekly (Starred)
“Blows other novels out of the water” - Sugar
|Publication date:||2nd June 2016|
|Publisher:||David Fickling Books|
|Suitable for:||13+ readers, YA readers|
|Recommendations:||eBooks, Reviewed by Children|
Jenny Downham was our Guest Editor in January 2010. Click here to see the books she chose. Jenny Downham was an actress for many years before concentrating on her writing full-time. She lives in London with her two sons. Her book Before I Die was critically acclaimed and was short listed for the 2007 Guardian Award and the 2008 Lancashire Children's Book of the Year, nominated for the 2008 Carnegie Medal and the 2008 Booktrust Teenage Prize, and won the 2008 Branford Boase Award. Get to know Jenny more by watching her 30 second interview.More About Jenny Downham