Paper Aeroplanes – Dawn O’Porter

It’s the mid-1990s, and fifteen year-old Guernsey schoolgirls, Renée and Flo, are not really meant to be friends. Thoughtful, introspective and studious Flo couldn’t be more different to ambitious, extroverted and sexually curious Renée. But Renée and Flo are united by loneliness and their dysfunctional families, and an intense bond is formed. Although there are obstacles to their friendship (namely Flo’s jealous ex-best friend and Renée’s growing infatuation with Flo’s brother), fifteen is an age where anything can happen, where life stretches out before you, and when every betrayal feels like the end of the world. For Renée and Flo it is the time of their lives.

With graphic content and some scenes of a sexual nature, PAPER AEROPLANES is a gritty, poignant, often laugh-out-loud funny and powerful novel. It is an unforgettable snapshot of small-town adolescence and the heart-stopping power of female friendship.

As a 15-year-old adolescent I could only of wished to be one of those girls who was the other half of a solid friendship resembling the one between Flo and Renee when I was at high school. They are polar opposites yet attract and connect bringing out the best in each other.

O’Porter did a wonderful job of spinning this tale around the reader, it was beautifully written, realistic and humourous in parts with an overall nostalgic warmth weaving through the sentences.

I was completely hooked from the first word, flying through the pages soaking up the words addicted to what would happen next. I connected with the lives of these young girls in a big way. From the opening scene I was transported back through the years to being young and eating tea with my Nana hoping my Grandad wouldn’t notice me (as I was feared of him simply because he existed,) the nostalgia around those years warms my heart.

I feel my 15-year-old self certainly resonates with the character of Flo but I can honestly say my older self is certainly more of the character Renee’s persona.

I saw myself in this book and relived my teenage years somewhat as I turned the pages. A gripping novel that discusses hard topics in an honest way and warms you through from the inside out. It makes me regret I never successfully kept a diary and I still don’t.

I admired how O’Porter wrote of all the taboo subjects many only insinuate, situations and emotions were played true to the experiences themselves, stark events and raw emotion.

As many of us are only too aware that the first ‘sexual encounter’ is not necessarily the best and O’Porter captured this writing about the reality of the situation instead of playing up to the so-called hype, which is vital for teenagers to bear witness to. Losing your virginity as a young woman is a very important part of your life and to feel abandoned and disappointed thereafter is heartbreaking but a common feeling that Paper Aeroplanes deals with delicately.

Death, anorexia, being individual and sexual encounters are all covered within the pages of O’Porters debut novel

This tale follows the young lives of two very individual friends as they embark on their life journey together as they are ‘growing into’ and ‘learning to love’ themselves.

The story expresses emotional reading and soars high with euphoria in parts, it is a wonderful ‘coming of age’ story told in a very real and raw way.

I loved this story and immediately read Goose straight after.

 

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