Monthly Archives: September 2023

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You Could Be So Pretty

BEAUTY COMES AT A PRICE. AND GIRLS MUST PAY.

In Belle and Joni’s world there are two options for girls:

One, follow the rules of the Doctrine like Belle: apply your Mask, work hard to be crowned at the Ceremony, be a Pretty.

Or two, fight the rules like Joni: leave your face bare, work hard to escape to the Education, be an Objectionable.

But maybe there is a third option…
Change the rules. Reclaim your power. If you can…

What would you choose?

Warning – this novel deals with issues that some readers may find upsetting, including references to pornography and sexual assault.

Usborne Books

This book made me angry. Proper, impotent rage at how horrifyingly possible this scenario is. I don’t think words could do it justice, you just need to read it, and then hand it to every teen you know.

I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to ask Holly Bourne some questions!

I feel like this is essential reading for teens, if only we could put it in the hands of everyone in a UK secondary school. What would you say to encourage boys to pick it up as well?

I do think this book would help male readers have a sense of enormous empathy for just what girls put themselves through each day in order to look like a girl. I can imagine it’s quite shocking to know the extent of the pressures their female friends are under, and how they probably respond to that pressure invisibly and effortlessly as they create their faces each morning. Beauty standards are a vital part of feminism to understand because they stunt girls’ confidence to fight for a better world, so any boy wanting to be an ally needs to have a grasp on what they are, and how they serve those in power. The book also looks at the more toxic ideas around what masculinity is too, and would hopefully give them food for thought in their own lives too.

Which character came to you most easily? Was it always from the dual POV?

I definitely found Belle easier to write because I was a slave to beauty standards for most of my life, and still struggle to show my ‘raw’ face to the world. Even just a decade ago, I used to spend almost two works just getting ready for work each morning – applying a full face of makeup, GHDing my hair into ringlets, mashing my feet into heels which has caused lasting podiatric damage. Since I found feminism in my late-twenties, I’ve definitely eased up on myself and read so much about the contradictions and confusions of feminism and the concept of ‘beauty’ – but I’m still nowhere as near as brave as Joni. I loved writing Joni’s parts, and feel I’m braver as a result, and go out looking like myself more often.  

Did you know from the beginning that it would have to end as it did (no spoilers)?

I’d say the book has a typically ‘Holly Bourne’ ending – in that it’s not the ending you want, but it’s the ending my readers need. I always knew what the afterword would be and say, though I still sobbed while writing it.

Have you thought about what Belle and Joni do next? Would you write a sequel?

I’m very excited for what they’d do next and feel the world of The Doctrine certainly needs to watch out. However, their adventures are likely to remain off page for now. I’m currently writing a new YA, away from the world of The Doctrine, and don’t think I’ll return for a while. I always welcome fan-fic though!

All of your books are fiercely feminist and pretty rage-inducing. I imagine that while you’re writing it could be quite emotionally overwhelming, how do you enable yourself to switch off and calm down?

Weirdly, I calm down by consuming ridiculously trashy and problematic media that goes against all the messages of my books. For some reason, I’m able to hold my feminist ideals and bring myself to the brink of sanity writing about the wrongs of this world and how rage-inducing they are…and then I’m quite happy to curl up on the sofa and watch some horrendous reality TV show. 

What are you reading at the moment and who would you recommend it to?

I’m just finishing I’m A Fan by Sheena Patel and I’m absolutely loving it – although I’m not sure that’s the right word for that book. It’s a very claustrophobic funny, dark, and lyrical exploration of parasocial relationships and I’m wincing with each page. The narrator is deranged but I kind of love her. Her takes on social media and inauthenticity and race and abusive power dynamics are just gaspingly insightful. 

Erasing Kate Greenaway

Great article about the removal of Kate Greenaway’s name from what is now the Yoto Carnegie Medal for Illustration written by Dr Rose Roberto.

Erasing Kate Greenaway

World Book Day 2024

World Book Day 2024 has appeared on the horizon and with it the list of £1/€1.50 books that will be available. To whet your appetite you can watch the video and scroll down to see what titles you can spend your World Book Day £1/€1.50 book token on between 15 February and 31 March 2024.!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykNLnXzewOI
  • Elmer and the Patchwork Story
  • Andersen Press
  • Greg the Sausage Roll: Lunchbox Superhero
  • Puffin
  • Charlie McGrew & The Horse That He Drew
  • HarperCollins Children’s Books
  • Dinosaur Club: On the Trail of a T. rex
  • DK
  • InvestiGators: Hi-Rise Hijinks
  • Macmillan Children’s Books
  • Marv and the Ultimate Superpower
  • Oxford University Press
  • Can You Get Jellyfish in Space?
  • Puffin
  • Loki: Tales of a Bad God
  • Walker Books
  • Onyeka and the Secret Superhero
  • Simon & Schuster Children’s Books
  • The Amazing Edie Eckhart: The Friend Mission
  • Hachette Children’s Books
  • Dread Wood: Creepy Creations
  • Farshore
  • The Doomsday Date
  • Usborne
  • Inis Mara
  • LeabhairCOMHAR

Register here: https://www.worldbookday.com/register/