Lexiland ISBN: 9780857075086
Published by Simon & Schuster Childrens Books, 2013
It has been almost a year since Emma's identical twin Laura died. She died very suddenly on the twins' birthday while eating cake. This has led Emma to believe that she died from choking, and no one has explained differently. The family doesn't talk about Laura, and there are secrets and problems. Mum and dad fight most of the time, mum has become over-protective, and little brother Rory has become a right terror. Emma has nightmares and has begun to have conversations with Laura in bed at night. As we learn more, we realise that Laura has been the confident, bossy twin, and that Emma has depended upon her in many ways. School has become very difficult, not helped by the fact that Emma has a photographic memory and is very good at school work. The other children tease her about this to the point where it has become bullying and Emma's self-esteem is at an all-time low. When Lexi arrives in class, fascinating, red-haired Lexi, she and Emma don't get along well in the beginning. Emma always seems to get on the wrong foot with Lexi because of her fascination with the patch she wears over her eye. But when they begin, warily, to make friends, Emma discovers some things about Lexi that seem like Laura. This is an aspect of the book that some may find a tad weird, but there is no suspicion that Lexi really is Laura. It is just that added to Emma's conversations with her dead sister, it makes for a slightly fey aspect of the story. Lexi and her glamorous parents add sparkle to the lives of Emma and her family, and Emma thinks of Lexi's home in Canning Circus (this is Bristol) as Lexiland. The story gets happier as time goes on and Emma begins to learn the truth about Laura's death and why she must take a pill every day. Lexi finally explains the accident that has left her blind in one eye, with a large scar and with some slight brain damage - something that has been apparent throughout the book. Mum relaxes too, and time, the great healer, begins to do its work. In a wonderful scene at the end, the family goes up in a balloon over Bristol and empties Laura's ashes over the Clifton Suspension Bridge. There are a few weaknesses in this long book, but it is a super read anyway, and as a first novel is a real achievement. Ms Moore is an author to follow with interest.