School for Nobodies by Susie Bower (Review)

Quote: You aren't alone - it's not too late! Your twin's alive in Middlethwaite

I’m obsessed with the cover for this one! School for Nobodies has a gorgeous cover, and as someone who always wanted to run away from the circus a little bit, I was fascinated by how the circus aspects were going to be tied into the story! I was so excited when I got my hands on the finished copy of this book, and I ended up reading it in two sittings!

Rating: 4 stars!

Thanks to Pushkin Press for the review copy of this book, it has not affected my honest review.

The plot:

Until she was 10, Flynn didn’t even know her real name. Her adoptive parents have always kept her past a secret, but one mysterious note transforms her world and sets her on a path to discover who she really is. How did she get the burn that covers most of her face? And could she really have a twin?

Packed off to a boarding school for misfits, Flynn tries to adjust to the unfair rules and stomach-churning soup while making friends with her unusual classmates. All the while, she receives more cryptic messages that slowly bring her closer to her true identity.

What did I think?

I loved the cover of this one from the first glance and I was so curious about the plot from the description. The idea that her whole life is shadowed in secrets was fascinating to me and I liked the way that it was played out during the book. The plot isn’t so complex as to be dense, but is definitely interesting enough to keep a reader guessing. I enjoyed piecing together the clues (and coming to some conclusions faster than Flynn was very very stressful) and I think that middle-grade aged readers will adore unravelling the mysteries of the School for Nobodies and Flynn’s past. There were some facets of the plot that I didn’t put together until the last minute, and while I found the ending to be a little bit suddenly concluded, I think that’s my adult brain talking and children would like the way it’s neatly wrapped up.

The characters were the real treat in this book. There are five children at the School for Nobodies, each having their name taken from them on their first day at the school. Instead, Flynn refers to them by the name she’s given them: Custard, Rule Boy, Saddo and Feral. Throughout the book they slowly become friends despite their differences, and I found the book’s messages about friendship really sweet and heart-warming. Their circus gives them something to work on together, and they focus on finding each other’s strengths so that everyone can be involved in the performance – a satisfying change from Flynn’s early desires to be the only one in the show. I won’t spoil anything with details, but I also loved the way the book challenged the idea of ‘nobodies’ and uplifted individuality.

The only thing I’d like to have seen challenged a bit more was the idea of Flynn’s facial burn as ‘ugly’. She called it ugly all the way through the book and another child commented on it at one point – all of which I could live with if the idea was robustly challenged. Instead, as far as I can tell, Flynn was still believing the same thing at the end of the book, which I didn’t love. I hate to think of young readers who could relate to Flynn (whether from burns or birthmarks) thinking that they’re ugly without challenge. However I do concede that I don’t relate to Flynn in that way so the representation isn’t mine to comment on.

Overall this is a gorgeous children’s book and a must read for anyone looking for a little circus magic and a story about finding family where you are, with mystery aspects and a little danger thrown in to keep things interesting!

Links:

Add it on Goodreads here!

Buy at Hive if you can and support your local indie booksellers! Also available at Waterstones and Amazon.

5 thoughts on “School for Nobodies by Susie Bower (Review)

  1. Don’t know if the comment I left arrived – just want to say a BIG thank you, El, for your lovely and insightful review, which I really appreciate. And you make an excellent point about Flynn’s scar. If I were writing it again, I’d make more of the fact that she ends up feeling that her scar is an important part of her, especially because it’s a reminder of Mr Gold’s love for her. Thank you so much!

    Liked by 1 person

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