Levitation For Beginngers
It's 1972 and ten-year-old Deborah is living a ten-year-old life: butterscotch angel delight and Raleigh chopper bikes, and Clunk Click, and Crackajack and Jackanory, Layla and the Bee Gees, flares and ponchos.
But new girl Sarah-Jayne breezes into school, pretty as a picture and full of gossip and speculation, as well as unlikely but thrilling stories about levitation. The other girls are dazzled but Deborah is wary and keeps her distance. That same week, eighteen-year-old brickie Sonny turns up on her doorstep with a stray tortoise and begins an unlikely friendship with her young widowed mum. That's bad enough, Deborah thinks, but then Sonny starts work on a site opposite the school and Sarah-Jayne decides he's the latest love of her life. Nothing escapes Sarah-Jayne, and Deborah fears what she'll make of her mum. It's good to be different, her mum often says; but not, Deborah knows, too different.
So, Deborah changes tactics, keeping her friends close and her enemy closer, even stepping up for some of Sarah-Jayne's levitation sessions. Then she's invited to Sarah-Jayne's lovely house, where she meets her charming family and encounters Sarah-Jayne's big sister's fiancé, Max, which is when she senses that all isn't quite as it seems.
Levitation for Beginners transported me right back to my '70s schooldays. The clannishness and micro-cruelties of 10-year-old girls was brilliantly authentic. I especially liked the innuendo and half-grasped truths that filter down to Deborah from the adult world and the slowly building unease. I loved that nothing is over-explained; it all made for a deliciously unsettling read.