The New Girl By Sinead Moriarty
‘The New Girl’ is by award winning Sinead Moriarty and it’s her first Young Adult book.
At school, Ruby is the odd one out. Although Denise and Clara are her friends, they are each other’s best friend and she is the ‘other’ friend. So when new girl Safa, a refugee who has just arrived in Ireland from Syria, joins the class, she is put sitting beside Ruby. Safa and Ruby realise that their lives are very different. But as they get to know each other they soon discover that they have more in common than they might think.
The story is seen through the dual narrative of Irish teenager Ruby and Syrian refugee Safia who’s just moved to Ireland with her mother. Safia has been given another chance at life and Ruby has been asked to look after her during her first week at school.
The story alternates between both teenage girls and gives an insight into the difficulties that both girls are facing and how these issues are strengthening their friendship. Ruby is the middle of three children, Orla is the oldest, a boisterous character whilst Robbie is the youngest who’s disabilities take up all of their parents times and leaves both Orla and Ruby frustrated and saddened by the lack of time and attention from their parents who are equally struggling. Whilst Ruby has two other best friends called Clara and Denise, Safia and Ruby become immediate friends with Ruby protective of her friend and racist comments that she’s exposed to.
Safia is trying to fit in and although she loves her new friends, she misses her dad dearly and prays for his safe journey to Ireland and is unaware of how much her new friends love her as they appeal to help her father.
As per Sinead’s previous books, ‘The New Girl’ is written with her warmth, charm and tackles issues such as racism, settling in, teenage pressure and disability. It is obvious that she thoroughly researched for the book and highlights the difference in religions, the way of life for refugees and the unimaginable horror that they have witnessed and the lengths they will go to get a better life. The scenes with Robbie also make for somewhat sad reading as both Orla and Ruby struggle with the guilt of their emotions towards their brother and the upheaval of the family, whilst Safia’s sweet singing is the only thing that keeps him happy.
The book was recently awarded Young Adult Book of the Year at the Irish Book awards and it’s worthy of the award, as I read it in one sitting!
It’s uplifting, inspirational and really shines a light on the refugee crisis that made for eye opening reading. On a side note, both Ruby’s friends Clara and Denise are also fascinating characters with their own backgrounds and I’d love to read more about them.
Beautifully written and captivating from the first page, ‘The New Girl’ is a heartwarming story of friendship, new beginnings and is a must read for all ages, not just young adults.
You can buy ‘The New Girl’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.