I’ve got six weeks to win over my fellow students, and that’s loads of time. Just think about all the good things I could achieve. Like doing away with lunch passes for the privileged few, and setting up more clubs and activities so people don’t have to eat their lunch alone. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. This could be the first step on my path to prime minister.
(Vote For Effie by Laura Wood. P43.) Synopsis:
New girl Effie Kostas isn’t afraid to speak her mind. It’s not helping her to make friends, so the last thing she needs now is to be involved in a campaign, but when she finds out that popular boy Aaron is only on the student council to get a lunch pass, Effie feels compelled to speak up.
Effie signs up to run for the student council. With her new friends behind her, she sets out to win people’s votes.Review:
If 2018 was the year of the inspirational book, 2019 looks set to be a year of inspirational characters. As much as I believe there is a place for list books I am glad to see this shift. Seeing a fictional character developing and growing can be so much more empowering than reading about someone who already appears to be impossibly special.
Effie is unafraid to speak out, even about the smallest things, even if she drives the people around her up the wall. However, as Effie’s elderly neighbour constantly reminds her, fairness and equality doesn’t come for free. Sometimes we have to speak up for what we believe in. The lunch pass may cause more than one adult to roll their eyes (rather like Effie’s teacher) but it is a twelve-year-old sized battle. It also leads Effie to investigate other inequalities in her school, such as the disparity in funding between girls’ and boys’ sports teams, and then to issues which affect the wider world. Children, and particularly girls, are often told to accept the way things are, but only when we are all unafraid to speak up will things change for the better.
Effie learns to voice her views in a constructive way, to listen to her opponents and to take setbacks with resilience and grace. The conflict between herself and Aaron turns into something healthier as they learn to respect each other’s stances.
It is lovely to see a contemporary novel about issues which affect every young person, and one which encourages readers to speak up and form their own opinions. This would make a great introduction to topics around discussion and debate. Effie is a brilliant role model for today’s preteens.
Thanks to Scholastic UK for my copy of Vote For Effie. Opinions my own.