Fourteen year old Georgie Harris feels as if the summer holidays are over before they have even begun. Banned from going to the local drama workshop by her bully of a step-dad and her increasingly fragile mum, she is consigned to six long weeks of looking after her tooth-fairy obsessed kid sister. Sick of feeling like the outsider at home and at school, she starts emailing the one person she thinks might understand; Dylan Curtland, star of the popular soap opera Jessop Close. And when Dylan starts emailing back, Georgie finally feels a tiny spark of hope. At last she has someone who really gets her, someone who really wants to help. But in the faceless world of email all is not as it seems...
As the title implies, this is an epistolary novel, consisting entirely of emails between our adorable Georgie and the friend she unexpectedly makes on the internet when she starts writing emails to her idol, the famous TV star Dylan. She's facing what appear to be the worst summer holidays ever and she has no one to turn to so she starts writing long emails to Dylan about her troublesome family, her so-called friends, the loss of her father etc. She's most surprised when she actually gets a reply and thus the most unlikely friendship forms ...
In her emails, Georgie talks about her aggressive step-father nicknamed Tone Deaf and her grief-stricken mother. She's angry because she can't go to the local drama workshop even though she desperately wants to be an actress. She finds a way to attend the workshop secretly and she even falls in though, but what good does it do when other things in her life fall apart?
Georgie goes through her 'butterfly summer' when after all the trials and tribulations, her life finally settles down a bit. She goes through a lot, but she couldn't have done it without the amazing and unexpected e-mate.
I'll admit that I was slightly bored by this novel at first. Since it's written in emails, I felt there was a tad too much rambling involved (obviously, that's how emails usually are) and I was wondering was all this was going ... But once the stage was set, the story started moving really fast and there were far more twists and turn in Georgie's life than I expected. On top of tackling love and friendships, this novel also touches some serious topics (death, physical abuse, alcoholism, prison), but in a skillful and hopeful way - I found the ending especially heartwarming.
The characters are great too. Georgie really stands out and she's a great narrator. I imagined her to be rather bubbly on the outside, but so sad and lonely on the inside. She was a fab and totally believable 14-year-old and I was rooting for her all the way! Her unexpected e-mate was fantastic too and I really enjoyed reading their emails and advice. Overall, I felt the characters had dimension and were well portrayed, both the positive and the negative ones.
Another thing I appreciate about this novel is the unique and eyecatching cover, even if it doesn't quite relate to the story since our Georgie could only dream about sitting on her bed and nicely writing all those emails on her laptop - yeah, right, instead she was forced to resort to libraries and internet cafés. Nonetheless, I really quite like the cover, it definitely stands out!
All in all, this was a great and fast-paced read about one girl's very important summer, during which her life is turned upside down and finally sorted out. It's nicely written - the two narrative voices are convincing and can be easily distinguished. It's a lovely story that will make you occassionally pull at your heartstrings, but ultimately bring a smile to your face. All I can say is, "GO, GEORGIE!"
plot: 4/5 | writing: 4/5 | characters: 4/5 | cover: 4/5