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The Boy in the Olive Grove

by Fleur Beale

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1311,325,896 (3.25)6
"On the night of her seventeenth birthday Bess Grey sees images of a witch-burning unfold in front of her as if in a movie. She also sees images from a different time, lovers, and the girl, she's sure is, was, herself. When she meets Nick she recognises him as the boy. There's an immediate connection. However when her father nearly dies from a heart attack there's no time to brood as Bess tries to save her father's business. She falls in love with Nick but her difficult mother interferes, forcing Bess to make the hardest decision of her life. She must decide whether to lose her mother or the boy she loves"--Publisher's website. Suggested level: secondary.… (more)
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I could not help but feel let down by this book. I have read a number of fleur Beale books, and I really enjoy the way she writes about real world girls in real world situations. For the most part I enjoyed reading about Bess's determination and her struggles to help her father and especially about the negative relationship between her and her mother. What disappointed me the most in this book, was the whole "past life" thing. It may be the purpose of the book, but it was a pretty lame plotting device! The fact that in a past life she had been male and married to her now-step mother's previous self, and been responsible for her death seemed pretty wacko, but it was made even worse when she "recognised" the boy in the Olive Grove. Now... I despise with a passion any teenage book that essentially has a "true love at first sight and it is reciprocated" part to it. Relationships don't start with so much spontaneity and passion - at least not those that last. About two thirds of the way through, Bess switched from this smart, go-ahead, kick-arse teenage and turned into a lovesick puppy. And when it was reciprocated, well... I almost tossed the book then and there! After that the actual interesting part of the plot seemed to dwindle down to nothing and we were treated to a very rushed ending that essentially left me feeling unsatisfied and annoyed.

In conclusion - if this book had just been about how Bess, after being almost-expelled from her boarding school due to a drunken bout (brought on by who-cares-what but the hallucination did not even seem a convincing inducement) and forced to live in a small town with her control-freak, self-obsessed mother whilst assisting her father to save his business and maybe striking up a friendship (and eventual romantic relationship) with a boy she knew from her youth (who had teased her and bullied her mercilessly, but now "grown up") and had her mother hijack the relationship - it would have been an excellent teenage drama, filled with personality clashes and bittersweet angst, worhty of four or five stars. But no, Beale had to ruin it by trying to toss in a half-pie supernatural edge that turned it into instead a saccharine mess. It's only getting three stars because I loved the way Bess interacted with the factory workers and because of her spiteful mother. ( )
  LemurKat | Sep 12, 2013 |
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"On the night of her seventeenth birthday Bess Grey sees images of a witch-burning unfold in front of her as if in a movie. She also sees images from a different time, lovers, and the girl, she's sure is, was, herself. When she meets Nick she recognises him as the boy. There's an immediate connection. However when her father nearly dies from a heart attack there's no time to brood as Bess tries to save her father's business. She falls in love with Nick but her difficult mother interferes, forcing Bess to make the hardest decision of her life. She must decide whether to lose her mother or the boy she loves"--Publisher's website. Suggested level: secondary.

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