Toffee

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review

Allison has run away from home and an abusive father, with nothing and no one. In desperation, she lives in the shed outside what she thinks is an abandoned house. Then, she meets its owner, Marla, who has dementia.

Marla thinks Allison is her old friend Toffee, and so Allison decides to become Toffee. She is a girl trying to forget and Marla is a woman trying to remember, and an unusual real friendship develops against the odds.

This verse novel – by the writer whom we can really thank for introducing UK teens to the genre – goes straight to the heart and explores complex themes of identity and personhood. It’s the question teenagers most want to explore: who am I and what’s my place in the world? Allison/Toffee is so shaken by what life has thrown at her that she really doesn’t know, but through the course of the novel, she explores and finds out. Readers will learn much about themselves by accompanying her on her journey.

The lusciousness of Sarah Crossan’s language almost drips off the page. This is a beautiful, profound book and teenagers are likely to devour it, possibly first-time round in one sitting. Toffee is one of those books with the power to bring teenagers out of love with reading back into the fold.

Note that this novel has references to physical abuse, teenage drinking and strong language.

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