I sat down to start reading ‘What Lexie Did’ thinking that I would just read a few chapters before doing all the other things on my to do list for the day but I just couldn’t put it down. I devoured the whole book in one sitting which for me is a true sign when I absolutely just love a book. My to read pile is filled with books of fantasy worlds promising to take me on epic adventures but when I spot a story featuring children just living their every day lives I can’t help but gravitate towards them. Even more so when they feature a cast of diverse characters and allow me to immerse myself in other people’s lives and cultures.
Lexie lives in London with her big, loud and very close Greek Cypriot family, they’re so big she has 28 cousins and she only knows one other person who has more cousins than her! They love nothing better than getting together to celebrate and spend time chatting non-stop whilst eating vast quantities of food. Although she is very close to her family she shares a special bond with her cousin Eleni, who is doted on by the entire family because of her heart condition. They are so close they have formed their own special language so they can communicate with each other without using words. So when Lexie in a fit of jealousy tells a terrible lie after the death of their beloved grandmother Yiayia, it tears her friendship with Eleni and the whole family apart. Wrapped up in grief nobody can see past this dreadful argument and the repercussions are incredibly damaging for them all. The only person who can mend this rift is Lexie but can she find a way to tell the truth without causing more hurt and pain?
It’s hard to put into words how much I loved this book, it’s such a joy to read. There are so many moments of joy, pain and grief all wrapped up in a compelling and dramatic storyline. Emma manages to cause a real emotional and physical reaction in the reader through her beautiful and thoughtful writing. Firstly I wanted to belong to this big loving family who make you feel like your enveloped in a huge comforting hug, even if at times it may be somewhat suffocating, you know they will always be there for you. Then contrast this with the desperate sadness of Lexie who is not only dealing with the grief of having lost her grandmother but knowing that she has caused this huge division in her extended family. Emma’s attention to detail and thoroughness in researching this culture shines through in the story providing many moments of comedy – my favourite being the toilet plant pots in the garden – as well as many poignant episodes. The characterisation is flawless particularly so in Lexie’s mother, Emma demonstrates the devastating effect the grief of not only losing her mother but her sister so wonderfully in the complete change of her personality so that she becomes a shadow of her former self. This is not just Lexie’s story but her families’ story as they’re inextricably bound together. Funny, sad and just absolutely marvellous, ‘What Lexie Did’ is a must have read.
Thank you to Chicken House books for sending me a copy of this wonderful book, it is available to buy now online and from any good bookshop. ‘What Lexie Did’ is Emma Shevah’s third stand-alone title featuring authentic and diverse young voices so if like me this genre of book is wonderfully appealing why not try, ‘Dara Palmer’s Major Drama‘ and ‘Dream on Amber.’