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Tamsin Winter grew up in a tiny village in Northamptonshire where there was nothing to do. She spent her childhood reading books and writing stories, mostly about cats (she loves cats so much that they still always appear in her books). She has a degree in English literature and creative writing, and has been teaching, travelling the world and daydreaming for most of her adult life, and now lives in Leicestershire with her son. She is passionate about writing stories that she hopes can make a difference to readers’ lives. Read a Q&A with the author.
Striking a brilliant balance between providing excellent entertainment and exploring topical issues, Tamsin Winter’s Girl (in real life) tells a lively, LOL-some, life-affirming tale. At its heart is Eva, who’s lived in the public eye since birth. Actually, since before birth - her parents have been vlogging about her on their All About Eva YouTube channel since she was in the womb. While getting free stuff from sponsors might be pretty cool (at first), the idea of living an unfiltered life, free from the shackles of endless product-promotion, has escalating appeal, especially when Eva’s parents go against her wishes and broadcast news of her first period to their gazillion subscribers. While feeling embarrassed and betrayed, Eva quickly bonds with new girl Carys, who “just seemed to get it. She was the first person in forever to ask me if I minded this stuff.” And, as it happens, Carys also has the skills to help Eva make serious changes. When her plan is set in motion, the fall-out builds to an epic storm that will have readers reeling, gasping and cringing (and, in all probability, shedding tears). Countering this storm, the pertinent wisdom of Eva’s glorious Danish granny is a pacifying presence, and her friends Hallie and Spud are adorable, authentic delights. Above all, and through everything, Eva’s voice is utterly engaging.
“It would be so much better to have kind arms, or intelligent legs... Why did our good qualities have to be so invisible to everyone?” Wise words from our protagonist Jemima that expose what our world does - and doesn’t - value most. Namely, the exaltation of narrow ideas of the “body beautiful” over the likes of intelligence, kindness, empathy and loyalty. Ultra-intelligent Jemima Small knows this better than most. Small by name, she’s big in brains and body size - ”It’s typical of my life that I look the exact opposite of my name” - and constantly wounded by people weighing her with their eyes and the cruel body-shaming bullies at her school. That and the fact that her mum has abandoned her family has left Jemima with an empty space in her heart that “felt bigger than the universe sometimes.” But with the support of her sweet best buddy Miki and the inspiring leader on her Healthy Lifestyle Class (AKA “Fat Club”), Jemima finds the strength to compete in Brainiacs, a national TV quiz for super-bright students. Adopting a mantra written by a teacher describing her chance in the quiz - ”Jemima Small: difficult to beat” - Jemima’s story will have readers rooting for her every step of the way. This is a mightily big-hearted book, with honest, vital messages about believing in yourself and flourishing in your own skin.