Disclosure: I received a finished copy of Margot & Me from Pansing Books, a regional distributor, in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Margot & Me by Juno Dawson • contains 401 pages • published January 26, 2017 by Hot Key Books, Bonnier Zaffre • classified as Contemporary, Historical Fiction, Young Adult • obtained through Pansing Books • read as paperback • shelve on Goodreads
How can you hate someone in the present and love them in the past?
Fliss's mum needs peace and quiet to recuperate from a long illness, so they both move to the countryside to live with Margot, Fliss's stern and bullying grandmother. Life on the farm is tough and life at school is even tougher, so when Fliss unearths Margot's wartime diary, she sees an opportunity to get her own back.
But Fliss soon discovers Margot's life during the evacuation was full of adventure, mystery... and even passion. What's more, she learns a terrible secret that could tear her whole family apart...
Three Generations Intertwined
Margot & Me, while set in contemporary times also grapples with the past set during World War II through a diary. What I loved about this book was how the stories of three generations knitted together. Fliss and her grandmother, Margot, were so at odds that Fliss’s mother was the only reason they put up with one another. Watching that relationship develop throughout the pages was immensely touching. Although, how Fliss came to read Margot’s diary didn’t entirely sit well with me. But you know, curiosity and what not…
It was interesting reading about the parallels between Margot’s life as a teenager and Fliss’s life. Their circumstances were obviously different but their spirits mirrored one another. Technically Margot & Me contained two different stories but the past and present were woven together so well, I found it impossible to divorce one from the other.
What I especially liked was how Dawson explored changing attitudes towards race, sexuality, as well as sexual identities. They bubbled beneath the primary narratives, anchoring the past and the present in their times. On some fronts, the twists angered me because the underlying bigotry that motivated some of the characters. It hurt to know that even though Margot & Me is a work of fiction, the sentiments echoed those of society. At the same time, I was heartened by how these issues were dealt with.
Love in its Many Forms
Above all, Margot & Me was about love — love in its many forms. That’s what made it so utterly beautiful. When I was done reading, I just sat there clutching the book. I was tangled up in so many emotions, it took me a while to recover. It was such an intense book that buried so many secrets, I felt overwhelmed. That wasn’t a bad thing, though. It means that Margot & Me truly embodied complexities of family, love, life, and more.
The most poignant reminder I walked away with was this: We try so hard to steel ourselves and be numb to our feelings, that we end up forgetting what it means to feel anything at all.