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Thursday, 7 December 2017

Review: Ride High Pineapple

Everyone is talking about the film Wonder at the moment. Based on the best-selling book by RJ Palacio, it tells the story of 10-year-old Auggie, born with a terrible facial condition.

Ride High Pineapple tells a similar tale — of the heart-rending discrimination that comes with facial differences. But, for author Jenny Woolsey, it's a true story.

Born with the rare Crouzon Syndrome, which is characterised by a sunken face and bulging eyes, Jenny knows what it is like to live with daily prejudice and bullying. And she has had to watch her daughter and son, also born with Crouzon Syndrome, live with it.

A blogger, public speaker and author, Jenny has written this compelling middle-fiction book to help raise awareness of cranio-facial conditions.

She invites us into the world of Issy, a girl who has just started Year 9 and is dealing with all the issues that come with the territory of adolescence, from friendships and family to big dreams and cute boys. 

But Issy is also confronted by extra challenges, including bouts of paralysing anxiety and a relentless bully who taunts her about her facial differences.

From the beginning, the reader is drawn into Issy's world though her honest, emotional and often funny journal entries. Issy shares her own failings, fears and hopes as she attempts to navigate high school and adolescence with heightened self-consciousness and severe anxiety.

Trying to deal with a cruel bully, who she calls The Beast, and a new girl competing for her best friend’s attention, Issy (desperate for people to see beyond her face) seeks solace in her passion for skateboarding and her crush on Tim, the cutest boy in school.

When Issy attends an Xtreme Team skateboarding workshop, she meets Sarah, who helps her tackle her bully and her anxiety, by teaching her to 'be a pineapple': tough on the outside, sweet on the inside, and wearing a crown on top. Through this, Issy finds the strength to accept the changes in her friendships, to stand up to The Beast and focus on her dreams.

This is an absorbing book that doesn't pull any punches. It's raw and honest, but also heartwarming and humorous. Jenny beautifully captures the agonising world of the teenager stricken by anxiety and self doubt. She weaves a heartfelt tale of courage and hope that teenagers will readily relate to, while providing the opportunity for further understanding about issues of anxiety and facial differences.

You'll read this stunning book in one sitting and you'll want more. For plenty of extra information about facial differences, bullying and anxiety, along with detailed teachers' notes, visit Jenny's website at www.jennywoolsey.com.

Title: Ride High Pineapple
Author: Jenny Woolsey
Publisher: Pearls of Wisdom Press, $15
Publication Date: May 2016
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780994534101
For ages: 10 -14
Type: Middle Fiction

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