Controlling identity, Tilly Heaton
Penguin Random House
Being Magdalene continues telling the story of the Pilgrim family from Fleur Beale’s best-selling books, I Am Not Esther and I Am Rebecca. Being Magdalene tells of Magdalene who is navigating conflict within The Children of the Faith, whilst trying to protect her younger sister, strong-willed Zillah. Magdalene ponders about her identity, because the rule controls everything she does. The rule states she must be modest, seemingly, obey the leader at all times and never speak to worldly people. To break the rule is to inflict internal damnation on your soul. So, without the rule, who is Magdalene? Exploring themes of forgiveness, family and identity, Being Magdalene tackles large issues whilst remaining interesting to teenagers.
The review knows that what a book is about is more than plot: it identifies key themes as being the subject of the novel.
Editor’s note: Close
Throughout this book, Fleur Beale writes in a style for younger teenagers. At the start of the novel, Magdalene is with The Children of the Faith. In this environment, the story is interesting and unique, with Magdalene conflicted between loyalty to the faith and her sister. But, in the last hundred pages, the story begins to drag on. Magdalene spends most of the time in a daze, moving like a puppet. She does begin to progress and realise that she can make choices, but it is a very slow way and tedious recovery for the reader. I do think that the author was trying to show how much The Children of the Faith affected Magdalene and how long it takes to recover from that kind of experience, but I think that the way she has tried to present this idea drags down an otherwise clever and original novel.
The review makes a direct link between how the book is written and what it means, drawing a connection between the form and the theme of the novel.
Editor’s note: Close
Tilly Heaton is year 10 at Burnside High School, Christchurch.
February, 2016 jane Scroll down to see reviews submitted by YA readers: Being Magdalene