Books & Literature

Book Review: Dear Greta, by Yvette Poshoglian

YA FICTION: When everything seems to be going wrong, sometimes you just have to stand up for what you believe in, even if it’s just in your own little corner of the world …

An engaging story that will introduce younger readers to Greta Thunberg and will, hopefully, encourage them to engage with their community.

Year six student, Alice Bogohsian, is not happy. She has been assigned by her library teacher to write letters to an important person. After some persuasion, the teacher has allowed the students to write emails instead. While other kids have received the names of sports stars and celebrities, Alice has been given a different name: Greta Thunberg. She has no idea who this person is. To make matters worse, it appears as though her grandmother is going to move into her home and take her room away from her! She then unpacks her life to the Swedish activist through a series of emails that details her friends, her enemies, her family, and the many missteps she makes.

Yvette Poshoglian has written over 40 books and her latest is a well-timed snapshot not only of Thunberg but of our world today. Aimed squarely at the young adult market, Poshoglian is a deft hand at creating interesting and vibrant characters that engage younger minds.

From a narrative perspective, Poshoglian employs the excellent strategy of using the emails to tell the story. The reader is whisked along and in the thick of the action from the very first page. It speaks to her skill as a writer that there are no cheats used in the narrative—no extra emails from other people or non-email sections. The first-person narrator, Alice, has her faults and the reader sympathises with that.

Along the way we meet a number of interesting characters from her family which includes her grandmother (known as “Nene”), her older sister Annie whom everybody adores, and her classmates such as Sami and Anh (who has an illness that keeps her away from school physically). There are also other vivid characters like her teacher Mr Cortez, her nemesis Jayden Tutai, and her principal Mrs Abdullah who loom large over the proceedings.

But no character looms quite as large as Thunberg herself and very cleverly she becomes a central focus for Alice. As Alice learns about her, so do the readers. It takes a certain high level of writing skill to pull this trick off and Poshoglian does it extremely well.

The book is easily accessible for younger readers with the many chapters staying relatively short (there are 64 emails over 271 pages) and there are decent lashings of humour amidst some of the more serious parts of the novel.

This is a novel that will engage younger readers and, perhaps, get them interested in what is happening in their own neighbourhood. The books shows what can happen if you get enough people behind you—even if you are only in year six.

This is an outstanding novel for younger readers who will delight in the characters and be immersed in the story.

Reviewed by Rodney Hrvatin
Twitter: @Wagnerfan74

This review is the opinion of the reviewer and not necessarily of Glam Adelaide.

Published by: Penguin Books Australia
Released: March 2022
RRP: $16.99

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