Taking Down Evelyn Tait, by Poppy Nwosu
Updated: Oct 5, 2020
Lottie is facing a predicament - her best friend Grace has started dating Lottie's mortal enemy - the sneeringly perfect Evelyn Tait. This is, of course, completely unacceptable in Lottie's eyes, so how will she cope with this predicament? By beating Evelyn at her own game of course, and becoming Little Miss Perfect Herself! This will not be easy for a girl who seems addicted to trouble. Will Lottie succeed in exposing Evelyn for who she really is, or will the plan backfire? You will want to keep reading to find out!
Lottie would have to be one of my favourite young adult fiction protagonists ever. She is a compelling character who bursts with energy and attitude, with her love of tomato plant growing, unusual words, black clothing and heavy metal music. I love the way she is on a first name basis with her principal Jerry, and her encounters with him are some of my favourite scenes.
Lottie is an intriguing mix of outspoken and vulnerable, rebelliousness and kindness. She can’t help causing trouble, but yet deep down she wants to be liked.
I love the descriptions of the heavy metal music Lottie listens to – the way the music beats a rhythm in her blood and she can lose herself in the sheer blood-pounding heaviness of it. The rawness of the music seems to reflect a certain rawness inside of Lottie herself. Despite her outward sparkle and confidence, Lottie is struggling with the disjointed nature of her new family - along with the gap left by her absent mother. She is also wondering why her childhood friend Jude is starting to behave strangely towards her, and trying to comprehend why her best friend Grace has fallen in love with Lottie's mortal enemy Evelyn Tait. Even the sudden interest from pretty-boy Sebastian, who she's had a crush on since forever, adds an element of confusion - does he like her for who she really is?
This book showcases a diversity of characters and family situations, and reflects the changing landscape of broken and blended families, and the quest to try and find a place within this shifting landscape.
Additionally, this book illuminates the reality that even those of us who seem to have it all together are often carrying an inner hurt or secret – and it is important not to be too quick to judge others (Lottie slowly comes to this realisation as the story progresses – and also realises not everything is about her).
I love the blend of humour and emotion this story emanates, set against a backdrop of music and friendship, and embarking on the journey of finding your place in the world. Perhaps the most important lesson to shine through is that of learning to be kind. Teens will of course love this book and many will identify with Lottie’s quest for self-identity – but adults will love and relate to this story as well – because, in a way, the journey to embracing who you really are never really ends.
Published by Wakefield Press, 2020.