No one has ever seen the lady who lives in Porta Mare step outside the gates. She isn’t even old, early thirties if that. If you’re lucky you can catch a glimpse of her pruning the roses in a silk skirt and wide-brimmed black hat, or else standing on the third-floor balcony watching the waves. Her skin pale and watery, like skimmed milk.
People say she’s made a deal with the devil. But what kind of deal leaves you trapped in a house with no other soul for company? And such a beautiful house too. It’s wasted on her.
Maddy is allergic to the world; stepping outside the sterile sanctuary of her home could kill her. But then Olly moves in next door. And just like that, Maddy realizes there’s more to life than just being alive. You only get one chance at first love. And Maddy is ready to risk everything, everything to see where it leads.
This is a joint review by me and one of my pupils, Jasmine, who is 16 and has been unable to go outside for the last five years. I teach her at home. As you can imagine Jasmine has a unique perspective when it comes to relating to this story.
First off, Jasmine thought it was a great book, if a little cheesy. I loved the book and steamed through it.
The premise of the book is an interesting one and something that people should probably talk about more. There are many young people out there suffering in similar situations, and they go unnoticed. But this is a story about hope, about taking chances, about a life that is worth living.
We agreed that the characters are all well fleshed out and interesting. Madeline’s (Maddy’s) mum is a strong woman who will do anything for her daughter. Carla the nurse is Maddy’s shoulder to cry on, she’s like a second mum, but a bit of a soft touch which Maddy uses to her advantage. When Olly comes into Maddy’s life her world is turned upside-down as she experiences love for the first time. Olly has his own issues with his family to deal with and him and Maddy almost cling to each other from the off. He is vibrant and fun and most importantly, he makes Maddy want more. She realises that a life trapped is not a life that she wants to live.
The pace is fast, the chapters are short, and you can wiz through it in a couple of hours. It picks up even more speed as the book draws to it’s shocking climax.
Jasmine and I both loved the layout. The notes, the IM’s, emails, letters and drawings all add to the world of Maddy and make it interesting. Jasmine particularly enjoyed the way Maddy observed the neighbours and made logs. She said you learn how to read people better when you’re restricted to observing people.
The only real criticism Jasmine had was that the hardships of being stuck inside the house could have been portrayed more. There is reference in the book to Maddy having an incident when she was eight, but we could probably expect more than one major incident or period of depression if you had lived your life inside for the last eighteen years, and in turn this made Maddy come across as slightly bland. Jasmine related to the birthday scene with a cake and a game and that’s it, but there was not enough reference to how hard this would be emotionally on Maddy, it only showed that her mum felt emotional on birthdays.
Overall, this is a great read and I would recommend it to anyone. It gives a valuable insight into the different lives that people are living and highlights the fact that these type of people need extra support, care and attention from the societies we live in.