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Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
Anne by Zarina Macha is one of the best coming of age stories for young adults that I’ve read. Why? Because it addresses so many of the topics currently of major interest and importance to teens, i.e. gender issues and concerns about opening up to family and friends, peer bullying, cutting, suicide and resorting to alcohol and drugs when other solutions to psychological stress aren’t available or aren’t working. Best of all, since the author herself is barely out of her teens, her writing style easily captures the attention of young teens: they will readily identify with the people, venues, and situations in which Anne, the protagonist, her room-mate Simone, and her bubbly cousin Zoe find themselves. And while teen readers from North America and Europe most likely won’t be familiar with the places and locations in this British-based novel, that is irrelevant in light of the all-important content.
The plot is simple enough: Anne’s mom is being abused by her father. One night, her mom simply disappears. Her father’s explanation is that her mother just up and left. Feeling abandoned, Anne’s situation is worsened by her father’s drinking problem. When he sends her off to live with his sister, the home-schooled Anne finds love and friendship in her aunt’s family and eventually decides to attend a regular school where she becomes good friends with a gay male classmate whose positive influence helps her cope with her own attraction to a female student. However, when Anne, who is an advanced student, falls prey to the school bullies, her aunt agrees to let her attend a boarding school where ultimately she thrives, despite suffering heartache.
Does Anne ever find out what happened to her mother? Is there any chance her violent father murdered his wife? And does she ever reunite with her father? Those are questions that will further intrigue readers of Anne. I couldn’t read this book without recognizing members of my own family in its pages, especially my 17-year-old granddaughter. While she isn’t the most avid reader, I know she would not be able to put it down because so much of what she has shared with me about herself, her own friends, and her often confused feelings on all the issues explored in this novel are such a major part of her life right now. So I can only say thank you to Zarina Macha for writing Anne. What a great start to your writing career.