I didn't take to this book at first. I stopped reading halfway through the second chapter. It's one of those books where the point of view keeps switching around from person to person and I found it confusing. Plus as it was set at least partially at a school and with teachers and students and it's in England, I thought it was going to be one of those Harry Potter inspired books, you know that don't have much substance beyond Look it's Wizards! In a school! You know with Spells and stuff.
But I was wrong. When I went back and started reading again I realized the book is set in Australia, so I had to switch around the accents in my head as I was reading. Secondly, though it's got spell book in the title, it's not really your average fantasy novel at all. I would say it's just a slight bend in reality. And lots of unlikely and outrageous stuff happens. But I was thinking it was going to be a book about witches and magic, and I was wrong.
No, it's a book about adultery. At least that is one of the major themes running though it. It's also a book about adults. Only one of the major characters is a young adult, Alissa "Listen" Taylor and she does not play a main role. The book centers on two sisters in the Zing family,Marbie and Fancy, and Fancy's daughters second grade teacher. Also on their relationships with men. Oh, and their parents as well. Plus early hot airballoon inventors. Whew! It's a complected book. But I did find it worthwhile to persevere, and soon I was unable to put it down.
The part with Listen is about her starting Junior High, and being ostracized from her group of friends in that cruel random way that kids of that age have. It's an interesting thread of the novel which does weave in well with the rest of the plot. In your average young adult novel this would be the main story and the rest of the book with all the adultery and adult stuff would be going on in the background. A most unusual book this is.
The Zing family secret is one of the other themes of the book. Let me just say that it was not what I thought it was going to be. Not at all! Each Friday night they meet in the garden shed behind Fancy andMarby's parent's house. The secret is revealed to us in tantalizing bits and pieces, until it is all explained near the end of the book. The secret is silly and unlikely, but fascinating. So is the rest of the book, so it fits right in.
Spell Book Of Listen Taylor
I Have a Bed Made of Buttermilk Pancakes