Narrated by Sandy Rustin
This was one of the times I was surprised by the content of a children’s book. Although the narrator sounded grown up, the words were quite appropriate and childlike, which made it entirely believable. Our central character is Ash McNulty, who knows no other way than to be part of the gifted student program at her school. Her parents have great hopes for her future based on the trajectory she has been on, and when she begins to struggle, she is paralysed by her uncertainties.
Ash is a sincere student with no hobbies (at least none that have been encouraged) other than participating in school activities like quizzes.
At a very young age, Ash was selected to be part of a small group with the personal attention of a teacher, and they are meant to go faster than the regular classes. Ash has reached the point where things are not as easy as they once were, and she does not know how to ‘fix’ it.
This story is of her seeing things around her in a different light, reassessing herself and how she interacts with the world around her. Her frustration with the difference in her sister’s life is quite realistically portrayed, as is the eventual understanding of what it means to put in the effort.
Some relationship changes would seem too radical if the crowd were slightly older. For the preteen group described in the book, it makes sense for the girls to alter their behaviour as and when they feel less defensive.
I think this would be a good book for children who think they are different from the others around them (for whatever reason) and to consider that thought more carefully.
The audiobook format was a comfortable medium for me to absorb the story. I had not expected the emotional investment I would finally have in the outcome of the story. I would pick up another book either by the author or the narrator again.
I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers but the review is entirely based on my own listening experience.