Tuesday, 31 January 2017

All About Mia by Lisa Williamson

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson was one of the best books I read in 2016. People had been raving about it for a while by the time I got around to reading it and so I thought that it might not be able to live up to the hype, but it did. A YA contemporary about identity, acceptance and friendship, it was an incredible novel; insightful and hugely important. All About Mia, while having a very different protagonist at its core, also focuses on these three core elements of growing up and finding yourself. 

Mia is the middle sibling; sandwiched between perfect straight A-student Grace and future Olympic swimmer Audrey. With no hobbies or hidden talents that she knows of, Mia feels that the only way she can stand out among her over-achieving sisters and get noticed by her parents is to rebel against everything and everyone. Mia is the wild one who doesn't care what people think, that is how she is known among her friends and peers.

But actually she cares deeply, and when her older sister gets away with something Mia knows that she never would have, it's the final emotional drop in an already overflowing bucket.

The first half of All About Mia is pretty much what is says on the tin. Written from the perspective of the main character, it is all about her on the pages. There is a lot of drama and it takes a little while to cut through this noise, to understand that this is the way Mia is portraying herself to the outside world to protect herself. It is a really clever way of storytelling and once I realised what author Lisa Williamson was doing, I was hooked.

The constant drama turns around about midway through the novel, which is a turning point for the story and Mia. And that's when All About Mia gets REALLY good. Suddenly it isn't all about her anymore, but we get to know the other players in her life; her sisters, her parents and her friends. And actually, through this shift in perspective, her family life does start to revolve around Mia more – but not in a way she expects.

Having not been a teenager for a long time it took me a little while to get into Mia's mind-set at the start of the novel, but actually her struggles are very real regardless of age. Don't we all fall victim to comparing ourselves to others, setting unrealistic expectations for our own lives and for how people see us? Even at 30+ I still do this, and it was wonderful to see Mia battle this hurdle to carve out her own space in her family. She was a fantastic and charming character, and her growth throughout the novel will be inspiring to many, teens and adults alike.

And while, yes, this is a novel all about Mia and I grew to love her very much towards the end, can we just take a moment to applaud her baby sister Audrey? Just 13 years-old, she follows a strict training regime, never complaints, and is always kind to her older sisters, even if they tend to ignore her. She deserves a medal (and not just an Olympic one), and a book of her own one day. What do you think, Lisa?

All About Mia is a story of identity, family, friendship and self-discovery. The book shows that you don't have to be the perfect student or athletically talented to be worthy, it's enough to just be you. And that's something we can all aspire to embrace.




All About Mia is published by David Fickling Books this week (2 February) and you can get your copy from Foyles or your own preferred retailer.


Connect with the author:

Website: www.lisawilliamsonauthor.com

Twitter: @lisa_letters
 


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