Worry Angels ISBN: 9781781126950
Published by Barrington Stoke, 2017
Amy tells this story in the first person and begins by remembering the day her dad left. Her mum and dad had been fighting over the fact that he hadn't paid the rent - again - and she is completely fed up. This time his leaving is permanent, and Amy must watch as her parents split up the family belongings; she and her mum go to a small flat, and dad to a run-down, dilapidated cottage in the country. Amy is a great worrier (and she's had plenty to worry about), and she refuses to go to the big secondary near where she and her mum have moved. As she has been home-schooled, she finds the new school overwhelming. Instead, she goes to Grace's Art School where children meet to cook and draw and do crafts and gardening. This is a happy place for Amy, but she misses her dad tremendously, and when they talk on the phone, he is in such a remote spot that conversation is difficult. Dad is a potter, and Amy is good at painting and drawing too, so they are alike in some ways. She is close to her mum as well, but with mum's new job, there is little chance to talk. When Rima, a refugee from Syria arrives, Amy is intrigued. Rima speaks no English in the beginning, but Grace soon makes her feel at home. Rima also refuses school because it is too strange for her. The rest of the story is about Amy's half-term visit with her dad and his new dog, her growing friendship with Rima, and the two of them together realising that they might be able to face going to the new school. Grace makes 'worry angels' out of papier mache, which she gives to her special children. They are painted with the children's faces, and are something for them to talk to when they are concerned or unhappy. There is quite a bit in the story about Amy's worries, and how she begins to handle them. There is no idea of the parents getting back together again, but Amy is coping, and her new friendship has become important. The delicate page decorations, the small pictures at the beginning of each chapter, and the occasional full page black and white illustrations are outstanding and add a great deal to a sensitive and easily-read novel.