Monday, 12 March 2012

Memory Monday - The Opposite of Chocolate by Julie Bertagna

The Opposite of Chocolate is apparently one of the most stolen books in UK school libraries, and I can see why. As well as its edgy-at-the-time (pub. 2003) subject matter of teen pregnancy and arson, it is a really good book. The battered old copy in my local library has not been stolen yet, but it's been read so many times it's on its third return slip (the bit in the front where the dates go).

Here's the Goodreads summary:

A second novel for Young Picador from Whitbread-shortlist star! It's a long, hot summer - and a climactic one. For 14-year-old Sapphire it brings the awesome, terrifying realisation that she is pregnant - a discovery that catapults her into the eye of a storm as her body, her future, her life, become a battleground for everyone's needs but her own. Meanwhile, out in the humid urban night, a mysterious firebug is running wild, working out his own anger and confusion with dramatic consequences. Somehow, from this cauldron of emotion and fear, Sapphire must find a way to take control of her life - and make the most agonising and lonely of choices.

TOoC won loads of awards here in the UK, and many praised the atmosphere of the novel: the long, hot, sweaty summer full of fires and endless evenings. I first read this as a 14-yr-old, the same age as the protagonist, Sapphire, and the thought of being in her place made me squirm with horror (I was quite a sheltered child).

So has anyone heard of it? It's well worth giving this one a read - I imagine you can pick up a copy on amazon for less than $2/£2, seeing as it's been out a while.

And what where the books that were wildly popular in your school libraries when you were a pupil? Or the ones that you read but dared not take out in case the librarians looked at you funny or other kids found out?


  1. When I was a youngun, the book everyone snuck out of the library was 'Forever' by Judy Blume. Basically just for the sex. Looking back, it's so tame...

    1. hahaha I had a feeling Judy Blume would crop up. We've got a couple of her books in our library and the amount of times they've been borrowed - I'm guessing much for the same reason you did...
      And when you see what's in YA now, sex-wise, you're right, they are pretty tame!

  2. SO strange, but I was thinking about this book just today, even though I must have read it 6/7 years ago when I was about 11 or 12! I thought it was great and Exodus by the same author is still one of my favourite books.

  3. I have been looking for this book since I was in grade nine! It's crazy that I remember it after six years, but I'm glad I found it!!