18th June, 2019

Review: The Paper & Hearts Society by Lucy Powrie (Hodder Children's Books)

As the author herself says on her social media outlets: "The Paper & Hearts Society is the first book in a new series for teenagers (11+) about finding your people, not being afraid to be your true self, and speaking loud and proud about what you're passionate about. It's about being bookish, understanding your mental health, and the effects social media can have on us, and it's the book of my heart."

Needless to say it was the bookish aspect that drew me to this story. I was looking for a whimsical comfort read to tide me over a stressful time and Powrie's synopsis of her novel had me hooked immediately. I was hoping to find my younger self in these pages, hoping to read a story that reminded me of being a nerdy teenager. And I'm happy to say that the story delivered in all of these aspects and that I devoured it within 1.5 days.

Yes, Powrie is a very young writer and yes, the story does have a few weaknesses. For example, it sometimes is extremely annoying when the protagonist doesn't use certain opportunities to clear things up and instead lets everything get even more convoluted and complicated. Maybe it was my motherly self kicking in in these moments when I wanted to shout at Tabby to "just tell them already, damnit!!!" Then again, I reminded myself how as a teenager you're not always able to see the bigger picture yet and tried to explain Tabby's passivity through this. And of course a lot of this has to do with the character's anxiety disorder. This, I believe, could have been stressed a bit more, however, not just through repetitions but by focusing more precisely on the fact that Tabby is just not able to act differently. The big moment of drama was very predictable but was then nicely resolved.

However, these are minor complaints. The Paper & Hearts Society is simply a wonderfully perfect, supergeeky novel for all bookworms. It is somewhat fluffy but still has enough depth through covering serious topics such as bullying and the dangers of social media. The characters are a diverse and relatable group of extreme booknerds. Their friendships are lovely simply because they grow so tenderly and naturally based on their common geekiness.

Another thing I loved about this novel was clearly what initially got me interested in it: the many literary references and basic book fangirling/-boying. I particularly enjoyed the group's literary road trip with its nods to many real life places, such as the Topping & Co bookshop in Bath. As I said above: I was searching for a book that would take me back to my nerdy teenage self and that's exactly what Powrie's novel did. In fact, I wish I had had this book when I was 15 (even though I obviously wouldn't have known back then what that strange internet thing is - 90s kid here - hahaha).

I'm definitely looking forward to reading the next books in the series and to seeing Powrie develop as a writer. She definitely has great talent and it will be interesting to follow her journey further.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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