Taking Down Evelyn Tait by Poppy Nwosu
This novel is an engaging comedy of manners set around a blended family and a high-school friendship group. Lottie is a black-clothed heavy metal fan and school troublemaker whose best friend falls in love with her worst enemy, the school good girl, Evelyn Tait. Unfortunately, Lottie also has to share a room with her nemesis, because they have been stepsisters for the past year.
With the help of her other best friend, who happens to be the boy next door, Lottie decides on an evil plan to outwit her enemy – to be even more virtuous than Evelyn. But can it be done by this self-confessed rebel? And why is the cutest boy in school, who she’s had a crush on forever, suddenly paying attention to her? Is it her bad-girl persona or her sudden good-girl vibe that is drawing him in?
Lottie is a wonderfully memorable character with a very distinctive voice and a whole lot of attitude. Her witty repartee in her regular meetings with the school principal are particularly delightful. This story has understated diversity in family groupings, ethnicity and sexuality that is just part of their everyday lives, as it should be. Poppy Nwosu captures the uncertainties and jealousies of high school perfectly, with her story mining similar territory to her Readings YA Prize shortlisted debut, Making Friends with Alice Dyson, to excellent effect. This is an utterly delightful read that you will devour like a cheeky bar of chocolate. Suitable for readers aged 12+.