Margot and Me

Written by Juno Dawson
Review by Pat Walsh

Fifteen-year-old Fliss and her mother, who is recovering from chemotherapy, move to Wales to live with Margot, Fliss’s grandmother. Fliss finds her previously comfortable London life thrown into disarray as she tries to cope with being the new girl at school, where she attracts the attentions of a vicious bully. She doesn’t get along with Margot and finds it a struggle to settle down to life at Mari-Morgan, the bleak Welsh farm where Margot has lived for the last few years. While exploring her new home, Fliss finds the diary Margot kept as a 17-year-old Blitz evacuee, and discovers her grandmother had lived at Mari-Morgan before, during the early months of the Second World War. Through the entries in the diary, Fliss gets to know a very different Margot, one she comes to like and admire, and she uncovers a shocking secret.

The story is told partly in the first person by the engaging and quirky Fliss, and partly in Margot’s voice through the pages of her diary. Both are likeable and interesting characters, and the details of their lives, in the 1940s and 1990s, make fascinating reading. Margot writes about her romance with a young Canadian officer and as her story unfolds, Fliss realises there are good reasons why her grandmother is the harsh woman she is today. A heartbreaking event forces Fliss and Margot to make an effort to get along, and they finally come to understand and accept each other. The people in both girls’ lives are beautifully drawn and rounded, and their friendships, loves and heartbreaks make for an engrossing read. This is a wonderful book, suitable for readers of 12+, but it will be enjoyed just as much by adults as younger readers. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.