Synopsis: Calla’s mum has never been normal. She’s been known to go out in a lab coat and slippers and often forgets to perform basic tasks because she’s been thinking about ducks. When a job offer arrives to study her beloved birds in the Amazon rainforest, Calla knows her mum has to go. Nervously, she agrees to go to boarding school.
She quickly learns that trouble is afoot in this odd convent school. A mean new headmistress is imposing horrible rules and making everyone eat Brussels sprout cake, and the students are itching to revolt. As Calla makes new friends and gets drawn into their rebellious plot, she keeps waiting for her mum to call. She will, won’t she?
Exuberantly funny and brimming with heart, How to Be Brave is a riotous celebration of the power of resourceful girls, stories and the right biscuit at the right time.
Release Date: 1st July 2021
Format Read: Ebook
Genres: Coming of Age, Middle Grade, Friendship, Contemporary, Animals, Mystery
Thank you so much to Pushkin Press and Netgalley for the earc to read and review.
Review: What an unusual story this is, I honestly still don’t really know what to make of it, there were parts I liked and other parts I didn’t. It was such a strange story but I’m happy to have had the chance to read it.
So the story is told through Good Sister June who is heavily obsessed with biscuits and cakes, though pretty much every character in this book is too. She starts by telling Elizabeth’s story, then she hits fast forward to tell Calla’s story. We also meet up with a few characters that played a part in both stories, and one is the central villain in both.
What a variety of characters this book held though honestly there were so many, all so very different and each offered something different to the story. The best of the characters for me though was Edie, she was hilarious, her uprising was amazing, she was my favourite part of this whole book. She held it together in my opinion and just as I personally found I was getting a bit bored she made it so much more fun, so she gets a mention.
I loved that in both parts of the story the girls made a lifelong friendship, they found something to hold onto while at the school, both had the same bully and both ended up learning more than they thought and actually enjoying their stay at the boarding school.
Something I found I didn’t like all that much was the footnotes, now I get that some held a bit of extra information that we needed but the back and forth between the story to the notes was a bit much. I kept getting confused and a bit annoyed by having to interrupt the story to find out what the Good Sister June wanted to share as an extra fact.
I don’t care at all for the very abrupt ending, it didn’t actually close up the story or end it at all, I would have loved one finally chapter to close the story up completely. I still had a couple questions that weren’t answered, a few pieces of information that I felt could and should have been shared. I also would have loved a little more on Elizabeth when she was at school her story wasn’t as long as it could have been.
Overall I did enjoy the story as a whole, it was a fun albeit very unusual read. It held a huge array of characters both good and bad, the actions the girls pursue gave me St. Trinian’s vibes which was funny to read those parts. I love a fun boarding school and friendship based book and this one met the goals of that. It was certainly not at all what I expected from this book but it was still a fun and interesting read.
Where to buy: Amazon, Book Depository, Waterstones
About Author: Daisy May Johnson is a writer, researcher, chartered librarian and former A14 Writer in Residence with the University of Cambridge. She blogs about children’s literature at Did You Ever Stop To Think, tweets as @chaletfan, and even sends the occasional Tiny Letter. When she’s not doing any of that, you’ll find her curled up with her favourite school stories, or baking the world’s best chocolate brownies.