A Room Full of Chocolate ISBN: 9781444916751
Published by Hodder Children's Books, 2014
'Mum found a lump under her arm on my tenth birthday.' So begins this novel about a mother/daughter relationship that is both happy and sad. When the lump appears, dad disappears, and Grace doesn't see him again. But when mum must go into hospital for a 'little' operation, she doesn't tell Grace how extensive that operation is going to be, nor the importance of it. Grace googles 'lumps', which isn't much help, but deep down she knows something is seriously wrong. When mum insists that she go to live with her Grandad Bradley in Yorkshire for awhile, she tries desperately to resist, insisting she will look after her mum. Mum must say no, and Grace is taken off to Yorkshire. Grandad greets her kindly, but is stern and not very approachable. They haven't met before because he and Grace's mother have not spoken for many years. Almost immediately, Grace meets Megan, whom she calls 'the rainbow girl' because of the bright clothes she wears, and they hit it off, much to Grandad's annoyance. Megan has a small pot-bellied pig that she calls Claude, and Claude becomes part of all their adventures. Adventures there are, some of them requiring a considerable suspension of belief, but feisty Megan and sad Grace become inseparable and together fight off a really awful bully at school, one who uses cyber bullying, and manage a trip to London to see Grace's mum when no one else will let her go. Secrets in the family there have been, and these are nicely sorted in the end. Grace's mother may or may not come through her illness, but she is on the road to remission when we see her at the last, and there is hope. The theme of Grace's worry and sadness about her mum is ongoing through the story, and her constant need to know the truth and to be with her mum shows great love and sensitivity. One of Grace's coping strategies is to keep a blue book with all her secrets written in it, and this can be a strategy for anyone going through a similar painful time. This is a good story with two heroines who are lovable and fun to be with, and in spite of some over-the-top episodes will be very much enjoyed by all.