Author: Dawn O'Porter
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Source: Personal purchase
It's the mid-1990s, and fifteen year-old Guernsey schoolgirls, Renée and Flo, are not really meant to be friends. Thoughtful, introspective and studious Flo couldn't be more different to ambitious, extroverted and sexually curious Renée. But Renée and Flo are united by loneliness and their dysfunctional families, and an intense bond is formed. Although there are obstacles to their friendship (namely Flo's jealous ex-best friend and Renée's growing infatuation with Flo's brother), fifteen is an age where anything can happen, where life stretches out before you, and when every betrayal feels like the end of the world. For Renée and Flo it is the time of their lives.
With graphic content and some scenes of a sexual nature, PAPER AEROPLANES is a gritty, poignant, often laugh-out-loud funny and powerful novel. It is an unforgettable snapshot of small-town adolescence and the heart-stopping power of female friendship.
I must first admit that I ordered this book as soon as I saw that it takes place in the 90s. I didn’t care what it was about or that I’d never heard of the author before or that the cover was too pink. I must also add this from the beginning: if you want to reminiscence about the 90s, this is not the book you’re looking for. Other than the fact that there are no SMS, iPhones, Twitter or Facebook in the book, there is nothing that really reminded me of being a young girl in the 90s. In the 2000s, cellphone were forbidden in my high school, so we still passed around handwritten notes around in class, so that was the one thing that got me really excited.
Now, let’s touch upon why those who say “enough with the 90s, Simay; I don’t care” should read this book. Paper Aeroplanes is the story of 15-year-old girls, Flo and Renee. Even though they go to the same school and take the same classes, in the beginning they have nothing to do with each other. Flo is BFFs with a girl called Sally, who doesn’t really care about her and uses her for her own advantage. Renee, on the other hand, hangs out with two girls who don’t care about her; she’s the girl who ditches classes often, gets in trouble a lot and hangs out with the boys.
Their common ground is family. Renee’s mother has died of cancer; she lives with her sister and her grandparents. While the grandparents are still merged in the grief of losing their daughter, Renee is confused and frustrated about what to deal with and how. At the same time, Flo is going through the loss of her father and has to deal with her irresponsible mother, bad boy brother and babysit her little sister. Renee and Flo become inseparable when they find each other, going through similar things and understanding what the other is feeling.
I realize this story in general sounds depressing, but Paper Aeroplanes is actually a very sweet book. It reminds you of how you came to meet with your best friends, how you can share both happiness and sadness with them with the same ease. It was one of the most realistic YA book I’ve read. Especially those of you who are tired of vampires, werewolves, stories where the main characters fall in love at first sight, this will be a fresh breath.
A Note on the Author:
Apparently, Dawn O’Porter is pretty damn famous in the UK as a TV personality. Also, she’s married to Chris O’Dowd.