Sunday, January 30, 2011

Review: Chicks with Sticks (It's a Purl Thing) by Elizabeth Lenhard

Everything in Scottie's life is changing. Her former best friend, trust-fund princess Amanda, is just that - her former best friend - and her mum has become an It girl in Chicago's art world. Meanwhile, Scottie just wants to blend in.

Then she discovers knitting, and it's as if she's been thrown a cashmerino lifeline. Soon Scottie and Amanda - along with new friends Bella and Tay - find themselves hanging at their local yarn store, a magical place called KnitWit, bound together by a yen for yarn and a hunger for friendship. Their stitches and their relationships become so intertwined that it's hard to remember which came first: the girls or the purls.

I remember reading a recommendation for Chick with Sticks ages ago, so when I saw it at my local library I figured I'd give it a go.

Scottie feels out of place, amongst her friends and her family. When her favourite Aunt - the one person she felt she could be herself with - dies in an accident, Scottie feels completely lost. But when she discovers knitting, Scottie finds a peace she desperately craves - along with old and new friendships. Scottie, Amanda, Tay and Bella are four very different girls from different walks of life, who each have a problem they've felt they have to deal with alone. But after connecting at KnitWit over their newly discovered love of knitting, they feel better about overcoming them.

Told entirely from the point of view of Scottie, the narrative flows nicely and quickly. While the novel does touch on some serious issues, such as learning disabilities and grief, Lenhard doesn't delve too deeply into the problems the girls face but instead focuses on their friendship and the ways in which it grows and changes as each deal with their respective issues. As such, the narrative does remain mostly a light-hearted chick lit read, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. By the books end each girl has found closure, and readers can feel the same.

I think Lenhard nailed writing Scottie as a typical teenage girl, caught between wanting things to stay the same, and wanting them to change. I was eager for her to grow and learn to accept herself - make the statement her Aunt knew she could. Sometimes she frustrated me some in her inability to do so, but constantly I was reminded of how hard it is to truly know who you are as a teenager - and to put it out there - in terms of your friends, family, and the world as a whole. Scottie is a relatable character, and I couldn't help but smile by the end!

Throughout the entirety of the book, knitting is a constant. I wondered if it would detract from my enjoyment of the books, as I know nothing about knitting, but instead it created a craving to try and learn myself! In fact, I plan to ask my Nan as soon as she's home from her holiday! The book even provides a couple of patterns I'm eager to have a go at - if I prove to have the knack for it, of course! I'll let you know!

Overall, Chicks with Sticks (It's a Purl Thing) is a light and easy read to wile away a lazy afternoon...but be warned - you may wish you could knit while you read!!

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