The Boy from France ISBN: 9781848123014
Freeman, Hilary
Published by Piccadilly Press Ltd, 2012
This is a rom-com with a difference. Romance there certainly is, and lots of kissing! But 14 year old Victoria (Vix) cares for her mother, who has MS (Multiple Sclerosis). Dad has to work long hours, so it has come down to Viz being her mum's principal carer. This means helping her dress and wash and doing much of the housework. Her friends Sky and Rosie are very supportive, and Vix hasn't really minded helping, but it does take up much of her extra time. When the girls' school takes French exchange students, Vix, who has never been much interested in boys, finds herself bringing home a very dishy boy called Xavier. Not only is he good-looking, but he is also charming and very nice to her family. She decides not to tell him of her mother's illness and pretends that an accident has meant that temporarily she is unable to walk properly. As her feelings grow for Xavier and she begins to suspect they are returned, she feels bad that she has not told the truth, but she so much wants to feel normal. They do become a couple and the kissing starts - but nothing any further develops. A jealous French girl starts rumours about Vix and Xavier, and Vix is shattered on finding graffiti at school, and when her mother and she have a battle about her relationship with Xavier, she shouts out all her pent-up feelings about having to look after her. The situation gets really tense when her mother has a fall and Xavier is the only one in the house who can help her. Because he doesn't know about her MS, he doesn't know what to do. Luckily, he gets help and Vix arrives home to find her mother being taken to hospital. Xavier is rightly upset that she has not been honest with him, and Vix believes that their warm relationship is over. All comes well in the end, and dad has realised that they must have help at home, that expecting Vix to do so much is unfair. Vix is at St Pancras to see Xavier off, and there is hope that they will stay in contact. This is a good novel with much detail about how Vix feels, about her mum, about her friendships, and about her life in general. It is one of a series of books called The Camden Town Tales, and Camden figures heavily in the action. Girls who enjoy this story (and they will) will like the others too, no doubt.
Age: 11+