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Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Review: Becoming Bindy Mackenzie

Author: Jaclyn Moriarty

Release date: 2006 UK, this edition 2011
Genre: Contemporary YA Fiction
Target audience: 12+
UK Publisher: Macmillan

Summary from Amazon:
It's not easy being Bindy Mackenzie. It's not her fault that she's the cleverest girl in school, and she's tired of having no friends ¬ Bindy's learning the hard way that being nice doesn't equal being popular. So it's time for a change - she's going to do whatever it takes to make people like her, even if it means being the opposite of nice . . .


Becoming Bindy Mackenzie is the third novel in Jaclyn Moriarty’s contemporary teen fiction series following the lives of pupils at Ashbury High. This novel about the life of Bindy Mackenzie and was perhaps more introspective than the other Ashbury novels but still just as compelling.

At the beginning of the novel Bindy Mackenzie is starting Year 11. She thinks this year will shape her future forever and so she must excel at everything and not let other students steal her crown. It should be noted here that Bindy is the smartest pupil at Ashbury. She is already number one at everything. The expression that it is lonely at the top really fits Bindy. While to the rest of her peers she may appear conceited, arrogant and a know-it-all, deep down she craves their friendship and wants to be a part of their world.

Bindy is dismayed to find out that an extra class has been added to her timetable this year. It is known as FAD or Friendship and Development. Bindy thinks this is a ridiculous waste of time which could be more effectively used to study, practice the piano, complete homework, write a business proposal or type up a transcript. Yes, Bindy is obsessed with completing every task. Her life revolves around study and intellectual growth. And so, this novel is Bindy’s journey into teenagedom and her quest to find out who she really is.

She begins this process by setting out to get revenge on her peers in her FAD group. She calls them the Venomous Seven. They hurt her feelings in the very first exercise and she is planning to show them her wrath. She observes their behaviour and tries to link their characteristics to poisonous animals. As well as being highly intelligent, Bindy is a voyeur. She watches people, listens to their conversations and amuses herself by writing transcripts of them. The novel is peppered with her recordings, her philosophical musings and memos to and from staff, family and other pupils.

Becoming Bindy Mackenzie is told in the unique format of Moriarty’s other novels. But this novel is more centred upon Bindy rather than multiple characters. Favourite characters from the other novels do feature – in particular Emily and Elizabeth – but we see a very limited amount of the story through their eyes. It gives the story a very personal touch and I found Bindy’s voice utterly convincing.

This novel explores communication and miscommunication. There are humorous moments but I found it more heartfelt and touching than funny. Moriarty explores teenage insecurities and how we all crave acceptance from the group. We all need to belong somewhere and yet we can all maintain our individuality. But first, we must embrace who we are for ourselves. I actually found the ending of this book a real tear-jerker. Moriarty’s writing takes my breath away. I admire her more than any other writer. I am simply in awe.

Thank you to Macmillan for sending the book to review.

Read for the Aussie YA Challenge 2011


Vivienne said...

I haven't heard of this series, but it sounds like my girls my like it.

Cliona said...

I am beginning to want to read this author's books more and more!

Lauren said...

This sounds like the perfect Moriarty novel for me. I loved Dreaming of Amelia but the way you've described Bindy makes her sound exactly like the kind of character I'd relate to. Going on the summer read list, I think.