Dear Dylan was a completely unexpected read for me. I had a vague idea, reading the press release and summary of what it was about, but what I thought would be a very light Louise Rennison style read quickly turned out to be something more.
Curham’s story to publication is worth mentioning. Originally Dear Dylan was self-published, then it won a YoungMinds award and received great reviews leading to it being picked up by Egmont and traditionally published through Egmont’s YA imprint Electric Monkey earlier this year. As someone who is an aspiring, or at perhaps more accurately a fledging author myself, I can’t help but feel inspired by her story and determination.
As a warning, because of the nature of the book and writing a review that explores than just the first couple of emails, I must warn you that there is a mild spoiler in this review. I’ve tried to keep the majority of the plot twists to myself, but this one was essential to review the majority of the book.
Dear Dylan is an epistolatory story told through e-mails. 14 year old Georgie is not looking forward to her Summer; she can’t go to the drama workshop she wants to because her stepdad is making her babysit her sister, her friendships are becoming strained and life at home is not easy. Georgie emails Dylan, her favourite actor on Jessop St (and by the way is a fiction soap where a character dies by being electrocuted by a toaster, most twisted TV death ever, perhaps?) and is shocked to get a reply. However as time goes on, she learns her new emate isn’t quite who she thinks. I don’t want to provide too many spoilers, but it really is impossible to review the book without letting it slip that the respondent is in fact Dylan’s Mum, Nancy, a widow trying to regain something in her life.
Curham’s characters are beautifully developed and it’s rare to see an older woman so well evoked and written within YA. Nan is lonely and misses her husband, but is also able to act as a grandmotherly wise figure to Georgie. Their relationship really reminded me of me and my grandma, who I am really close with, and she was just the character Georgie needed at that time. I have to admit, I wasn’t sure if the e-mate relationship would work at first, but it did and I was really interested to read at the end with an author interview that it was inspired by George Harrison’s mum writing responses to fanmail and striking up a similar friendship.
I felt that Curham really dealt with the issues she presented well and she didn’t just magic everything better for the characters. There was one moment I was utterly furious at Georgie’s Mum, but Curham explained it well and it was overall exceptionally realistic.
Georgie was an incandescent narrator; full of life, quirky and brilliant. I don’t think her voice will work for everybody however, but if you like the Louise Rennison Angus, Thongs series or Diane Messidoro’s How To Keep A Boy As A Pet I think you’ll love Georgie’s voice. I think this book is well suited to the younger end of YA but is a fabulous read for anyone! I highly recommend it to contemporary fans.
Dear Dylan is available now and is published by Electric Monkey. I received a free review copy of this book from the author/publisher and am very grateful for the opportunity to review this book.