Gordon Reece is a writer and illustrator. He studied English literature at Keble College, Oxford, and has been a lawyer and a teacher. Originally from the UK, he lived in Spain for a number of years and emigrated to Australia in 2005. His books include picture books for trade and educational publishers (Pepe in England series for Macmillan Spain; What does your daddy do?, The Runaway Circus and Nog the Nag Bird for Lothian), comics and graphic novels (The Adventures of Count Oblonsky and Petrov, Macmillan, Spain) as well as fiction for adults (The Lift, Ripples Magazine, 2006).
Early on in Reece's disappointing first novel, a predictable psychological thriller, bullies attack shy, unpopular Shelley Rivers in the girls' bathroom at her London secondary school, setting her hair on fire with a cigarette lighter. After Shelley gets out of the hospital, her recently divorced mother, Elizabeth, withdraws her from school, and they move to Honeysuckle Cottage, a remote country property bought with Elizabeth's share of the divorce settlement from her stock cad of a husband. At first, everything is looking up: Shelley's former school arranges for tutors so she can prepare for her exams, and Elizabeth throws herself into her job at a law office. But their peace is shattered in the early morning of Shelley's 16th birthday when a burglar breaks into the cottage. The violent repercussions force Shelley and Elizabeth to question how far they're willing to go to protect the new life they've built. While bullying is a hot topic, much of the plot relies too heavily on known genre tropes and coincidence. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
This debut novel is a lukewarm psychological thriller that tells the story of Shelley, a teenager whose three best friends suddenly turn on her, turning her life into a living nightmare. The girls have been friends since grammar school, but by their senior year in high school, Shelley's friends have changed; they are no longer interested in school, instead turning to boys, drugs, and rebellion. Rather than going their own way when Shelley loses interest, their verbal harassment soon turns into frightening physical abuse. The title refers to Shelley and her divorced mother, once a formidable lawyer but now a subservient secretary. Shelley laments that they never show their true feelings and that they let people, her absentee father included, bully them. When Shelley and her mother finally crack, the story turns predictable. VERDICT The novel moves along at a fast pace, but the characters are not fully realized. The bullies and the father come off as stereotypes, and victimized Shelley and her mom fail to evoke the reader's empathy. Still, despite the novel's weaknesses, it is satisfying to watch Shelley's personality shift and the "mice" come into their own. Recommended for collections where Sophie Hannah is popular.-Marianne Fitzgerald, Annapolis, MD (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.