Cicada Summer is "the best book ever" (almost)
I've just finished reading an advance copy of Cicada Summer to Alice. Once we'd started, she wouldn't let me stop, and when we'd finished, she pronounced it the second best book ever (after Martine Murray's Henrietta The Great Go-Getter) and demanded that I read it again immediately.
It's gratifying to have such a positive reaction, even from a biased source (though I should point out that I'm only her third favourite author, after Enid Blyton and JK Rowling.) The funny thing is that Cicada Summer has turned out to be an almost perfect book for her - the main character, Eloise, is like her in many ways, and the younger girl that Eloise befriends, Anna, has turned out to be spookily similar in personality to my younger daughter Evie. When my mum remarked on it I thought she was imagining things; but on reading the book to Alice, I've discovered that it is indeed so. Anna and Eloise interact in much the same that Alice and Evie do. Anna is volatile and sparky and cajoles the introspective Eloise out of her melancholy, and she also dreads being alone, which is one of Evie's hates. The deserted house, the secret summerhouse, the paintings the girls make together, Eloise's dislike of new people, her sadness and her reclusiveness, all hold a special appeal to Alice.
None of this was intentional. When I first started to write Cicada Summer, Alice was only four (she's now nearly eight) and her personality was only just beginning to emerge. Her sister Evie was hardly even a person, she was only eighteen months old and certainly not in a position to serve as a model for a nine year old character. But somehow the book and the child have grown to meet each other, at exactly the right time.