Published by: Hodder Children's
Release date: 2nd February 2006
I got it from: Library
Isabel is the girl who
rules the school with an iron fist and a gang of minions who do her
bidding. Her friends are scared of her, her teachers can't get through
to her, and that's just the way she likes it. With her razor-sharp edges
and tall walls, nothing gets to Isabel and no one, but no one, is ever
going to discover her dark, sad secrets. Then she meets Smith. And
Isabel learns that sometimes when all the expectations and pressures are
too much, you just need someone to help you get lost.
I can't believe I haven't come across Sarra Manning before. I'm having one of those epiphical moments you get when you discover a new author and want to scream 'where have you been all my life?' and immediately obtain their whole back-catalogue. And even better, it's a Brit author! I love reading about the American kids and their kooky lives, but I'm all for supporting home-grown talent and sometimes it's nice to come home, to be able to imagine the place I'm reading about and understand the lingo. My first thought when reading Let's Get Lost was, hang on, I've found a British Sarah Dessen! Which is most definitely a good thing - I love Dessen's books, and to have found a British version is just my idea of heaven. Manning's writing is convincingly teenish, yet peppered with insights and wisdom to make you think and smile.
Isabel is the girl you love to hate. She's the best kind of character - flawed but redeemable. I can see elements of myself in her, which is not necessarily a good thing for me, but is a good thing when it comes to reading about her. There's something soothingly familiar about reading about her time at school - I'm so used to reading about the US school system, which is confusing and strange to me, than when I actually get to read about Brit school life I'm transported back to my own time as a poor, misguided teen right away. Isabel plays at being a bitch because it means she doesn't have to let anyone see inside her. No talking about feelings, no heart-to-hearts, absolutely no little chats about her mother.
The thing about being a bitch though, is that once you start it's hard to stop. It spills over and before you know it you're being hateful to everyone around you, letting no-one get within 10 feet without a caustic remark being thrown their way. But then there's Smith. He's not like anyone else she knows - he doesn't let her get away with being a bitch, and so maybe, just maybe, with him she can be someone else, if only she can figure out how to stop her mouth spouting out vile remarks. The only problem is that there is a mountain of lies stopping her from being true to him, and she doesn't know how to start climbing it.
If Isabel is the girl you love to hate, then Smith is the guilty crush, the foxy geek, the rather adorable if slightly emo student who you can't help but love a little bit. Again, Manning has him exactly right - the slightly older student, but most definitely still a student. You have to feel sorry for him at times, getting involved with Isabel, but then he says something perfect and you're soon cheering him on again.
I'm off to find more Sarra Manning...