Review - Dandelion Clocks - Rebecca Westcott

Dandelion ClocksTitle: Dandelion Clocks
Author: Rebecca Westcott
Genre: Middle-Grade, Contemporary
Publication: March 6th 2014, Puffin
Pages: 272 Pages
Source: Thank you to Penguin Publishers for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 5/5 CUPCAKES
Dandelion Clocks by Rebecca Westcott Smith will be loved by fans of Jacqueline Wilson, Cathy Cassidy or Annabel Pitcher. Liv takes us on a journey through her life from "Thirteen Weeks Before" to "Six Months After". We discover Liv's passion for photography, her brother's obsession with sticking to the rules, the stupidity of Moronic Louise at school, and how the family copes as Mum's terminal illness takes hold...Guided by Mum's own childhood diaries, Liv finds a new way to live. This book is real, funny, utterly touching and absolutely heartwarming. Despite the sadness at the heart of the story, every reader will laugh and keep on turning the pages, charmed by Liv and her mum. "A brilliantly told, ultra modern story about a significant six months in eleven year old Olivia's life - it should be sold with a large box of tissues!" (Jacqueline Wilson)

I'm not quite sure how I'm going to be capable of stringing together words that will form a coherent sentence, yet alone a coherent review. I'm still astounded by the sheer amount of emotions Dandelion Clocks bestowed unto me. This book will make you feel. I'm still amazed at how average, ordinary words formed into a certain sentence, can surmount to such a beautiful story that will have you feeling such varying amount of emotions; happiness, joyfulness, sadness, sorrow, anger and guilt. A story which deals with a daunting subject in such a sensitive, touching manner. A story that has you laughing at the characters' wit and crying the next because of the pain they must be experiencing, and the pain you feel as a reader, because you've fallen so in love with the  charismatic characters. It takes pure, genuine talent to create such a beautiful, heartfelt piece and Rebecca Westcott has done just that.

Dandelion Clocks is about eleven year old Liv. She has a dad who's a photographer, a fourteen year old brother with Aspergers Syndrome and a loving, fun mom. However, Liv's whole world seems to cave in when her mom is diagnosed with a terminal illness. As the illness takes hold, Liv has to learn to cook, put on make-up and set new rules for her brother, learn to navigate the unfamiliar territory of womanhood and the hardships of growing up. Guided by her mom's old journals from her teenage years and through her love for photography, Liv learns that although things will never be the same again, with the help of the journals and her new camera, things might just be okay in the end.

When I received an email from Penguin Publishers offering me a chance to review this book, I will at admit that I was (stupidly) hesitant. I tend to avoid books that deal with heavy subjects such as death, at all costs. However, when I saw the infinitesimal amount of fantastic reviews, I decided to take the plunge...choosing to read this book was one of the best book-related decisions that I've ever made.

Dandelion Clocks was beautiful. Everything about this book is brilliant. The characters are so funny and lovable, the story so heart-breakingly honest, yet simultaneously uplifting and the writing so pure and stunningly crafted, it won't cross your mind to put the book down. I seldom read a book in one sitting, but Dandelion Clocks was so lovely and so brilliant I didn't want to do anything else until I had finished savoring every word.

The characters in this book are amazing. Liv's voice resonates strongly through the story! The characters all had their own quirks and individual personalities and each of them play an important part in the story. I loved them all so much and I couldn't possibly choose a favourite.

I love Liv. She's so strong and courageous and I really admire how she coped with such a terrible situation. Of course she still cried, she felt angry, at herself and at her mother, even though she knew it wasn't her mom's fault. She learnt to live again and even though she couldn't always make sense of it all and it shattered her, she went on living, went on (eventually) laughing, went on trying to stitch her broken heart back together as much as possible. Liv is a truly courageous girl and someone we should all look up to. The author wrote her in an honest light and I appreciate that she let Liv ask questions that anyone grieving would ask, Rebecca didn't shy away from tackling some difficult questions.

I love Liv's mom, she was so funny and kind and it broke my heart to see her get sick as she was a truly amazing woman. Her and Liv shared such a steadfast, wonderful bond and it brought tears to my eyes as I could see how Liv loved her mom and I didn't even want to think about Liv not having her mom around anymore.

I love Liv's dad, her brother, Isaac and her best friend, Alice. Isaac is fourteen and had Aspergers Syndrome and lives life by the rules that help him understand things. I was terrified for him when Rachel got sick as his routine and everyone's hard work in helping him with the rules unravelled as things started changing. However,  he pulled through and I was so happy for him. Liv is such a fantastic sister to him. She helps him a lot but gets frustrated with him sometime. Their sibling relationship is also portrayed in an honest, realistic light. I love Isaac though, I love how he is so literal and I love his sense of humour.

Liv's dad is fantastic, I admire his strength and how he helps Liv and Isaac through the grief that mirrors his own.

I love Liv and Alice's friendship. Alice is such a good friend to Liv and so understanding. In Dandelion Clocks, friendship is a strong feature.

The story in itself was wonderful, especially as I could kind of relate to it. When I was 7, my mom was diagnosed with M.E. (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) also called CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). There are times, especially during her bad relapses, that she can't get up for months at a time and it has been really bad in the past where she was almost hospitalised. When I was reading this book, I completely understood how Liv was feeling as at times I'd felt like that in the past. The anger, the guilt, the helplessness and how you wish for the days when everyone was happy and healthy. This book really hit close to home and I think reading this book will help both my mom and I. After reading this book, I realised just how lucky I am that my mom's illness isn't terminal and to anyone reading it, it will really put things into perspective.

The writing in this book is so touching, so personal, so utterly heart-warming. I absolutely loved reading the parts that were snippets from Liv's mom's tween/teen journals, they often had me chuckling and Liv's reaction to the things her mom wrote about was absolutely priceless! I really was laughing out loud during a lot of parts in this book, I laughed more than I thought I would.  I love how Rebecca managed to make this a light-hearted, amusing read and still have me chortling even though the she was writing about a difficult subject.

Although the writing made me laugh, it also made me cry. I'm not talking about a mere tear trickling down my cheek, I'm talking about a constant stream of tears. Tears and snot and a blotchy face. Do not read this book in public because I can assure you that you will be a sobbing, disheveled mess.  The days leading up to her mom's death and the days after made me sob the hardest. Knowing that Liv wouldn't have her mom by her side and when reflecting back on the moments they shared, having such an amazing mother/daughter bond, one that should never be broken, reduced me to a blubbering mess. Those scenes were just written so beautifully and will make you fling your arms around your mom/guardian and just be so thankful that you have her in your life. Writing this review is causing tears to form again, so I'll round off now.

Dandelion Clocks has to be one of the best books I've read this year. It deals with a highly sensitive subject in such a gentle, loving manner. I was expecting it to be quite depressing but it was the furthest thing from it. It was warm, touching, funny and a genuine, moving novel that sends out a message of hope and encouragement. This book made me laugh at the witty talk between the characters, the things Isaac would do, Liv's mom's diaries and so many other things that made me laugh and warm inside. I also cried, I sobbed, I had to put down the book for a minute to wipe away the tears obscuring my view of the pages.

Dandelion Clocks is a must-read for all people from the ages of 10 onwards. It's a fantastic, heartfelt book for anyone dealing with grief, knows someone dealing with grief or even someone who just wants to read a beautiful story.

Dandelion Clocks is an astoundingly brilliant gem of a story. One that will teach you about the important things in life and how, when your world has caved in, to not give up but keep on living, loving and laughing. An inspiring, unmissable read.

I give it: 5 Cupcakes!