Wednesday 25 February 2015

Review: Worry Magic by Dawn McNiff.

Goodreads synopsis:

Courtney is a worrier - she's worried about EVERYTHING, from her mum and dad's constant fights, to her Gran being ill to the fact that her best friend Lois suddenly seems to be more interested in growing up and hanging out with mean girl Bex. 

But then one day, during a particularly bad argument kicked off by her dad's discovery of a pig in their lounge (don't ask...) Courtney begins to feel a bit funny... a bit woozy... a bit like a dream is coming on - and then when she wakes up everything is better! Mum and dad are being nice to each other, the pig is going back to the animal shelter (really, don't ask...) and even Kyle, her older brother, seems to be making an effort. 

Courtney becomes sure that each time she feels woozy and has her dreams, she's magicking her problems and worries away. Her mum, dad and brother aren't so sure though. Can Courtney convince everybody that her worry magic dreams are the perfect way to solve her problems? Or should she learn to worry a little less and to ask for help in some non-magical places more?


Based on the synopsis of this book I was expecting a book with a slight fantasy or magical realism slant. This wasn't the book I got - it's rooted entirely in our here and now - but the book I did get was a lovely, highly enjoyable one.

The main character, Courtney, spends a lot of time and energy worrying. She worries about the big things going on in her life and the small, seemingly inconsequential, things too. She tries her hardest to predict things that will go wrong and then solve them before they can wrong - anything to reduce the stresses going on around her. When these stresses continue to grow so too does the load Courtney is taking on and she begins to experience anxiety attacks. 

These anxiety attacks are no ordinary thing - they cause Courtney to faint and whilst she's in the faint she sees what's going to happen next. Everything is always better after one of these attacks so Courtney puts two and two together, she can use these faints to fix all of the things causing her stress. I found that even though I knew things couldn't be working the way Courtney thought they were I was still very invested in her aims.

The resolution of the book is entirely satisfying. I loved the way Courtney's thoughts and actions were explored, there is a gentle hand at work here - she's never made to feel bad for thinking the way she does and I really appreciated this. I think many young readers will identify with Courtney and her worrying - we all worry about things to some extent, and the range of her worries is pretty broad. There are some nice thoughts expressed in the book about worry and about managing worries, I'm sure its target audience will be reassured and encouraged.

I loved both Courtney and her brother Kyle in this book. Their sibling relationship is so well created, they have times when they don't get on but none of this matters to them in the grand scheme of things. They were absolutely my favourites though there aren't any weak links in terms of characters.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and will be looking forward to whatever comes next from Dawn McNiff.

Juniper's Jungle

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