Legal Crime provides a foray into the mindset of a confused teenage girl called Fiona, who runs away from home to escape her previous life and reinvent herself as a singer. This may not sound too unusual at all until you realise that it is written by a 13 year old girl. I have to say that I am brimming with respect for the author, Samiksha Bhattacharjee.
She has managed to create a book, which will appeal to its intended audience with its mean girls, attractive boys and all of the uncertainties, pressures and ambitions that dominate the life of a teenager. There is a vast array of characters, all of which have been brought alive with lively dialogue, littered with the slang and banter that young people exchange. It is fast moving throughout, the story told through recollections and diary entries as well as what is happening in the present.
One thing that I noticed is that the action of the book is a little choppy for my liking, the use of flashbacks providing the back story in pieces and I sometimes felt that this could be made more smooth. There were times where I wasn’t totally certain of how the characters were connected and this sometimes hindered the clarity in my mind of the plot and its direction as well as their significance to it.
I liked the quirkiness of the extra narratorial voice, chipping in with her observations and comments – this made me smile; I enjoyed her presence.
But I think what is really accomplished about Bhattacharjee’s writing was her use of description. One example of this that will stay with me from the reading of this book and demonstrates her control and her command of word choices is shown in the vivid picture of a snake, the appearance of which is literally brought alive by her accomplished vocabulary and her mastery of word manipulation which moulds this snake into a tangible thing. Its menacing presence fairly leaps off the page. A true writing strength.
With the theme of identity being so strong, I think this book has much to offer to most teens: you have Fiona’s own struggles; the mounting pressure of peers and their thoughts on how you should act and look; the idea of who you think you are as opposed to your true self; and finally, what you could be given the chance.
This review was first published on Reedsy Discovery where I was privileged to read it as an ARC.