Today I have a double book birthday! The first two books in my series HOPEWELL HIGH are published: ALL TOO MUCH and STAGE FRIGHT. This is part of Bloomsbury Education’s hi-lo collection, and the Hopewell High books (a set of four, the second two publishing in September) are aimed at readers of 12 upwards with a reading age of around 7.
Hopewell High is a boarding school, and my books centre on a friendship group of four girls: Samira, Alice, Hani and Daisy. They share a dorm room together and are firm BFFs…or are they?
In ALL TOO MUCH, Samira is struggling to cope with the academic pressure. From Iran (where her family still lives), she’s been brought up to see education as the most valuable thing she can have, so she works very hard and hates it if she doesn’t do well in tests. When Samira is picked for the school quiz team, it’s a huge honour as she’s much younger than the other contestants. But cramming for the quiz on top of her homework proves extremely stressful, and Samira turns to self-harm as a way of coping. When the others find out, they have mixed reactions. Alice and Hani are sympathetic but Daisy is disgusted. Now Samira has to cope not only with her workload but also the shame of discovery and the loss of a friend. How can they all pull together to fix things?
STAGE FRIGHT is Alice’s story. She’s the actor of the group: a talented singer and performer, she’s been cast as the lead in the school production of Legally Blonde. Alice has suffered from panic attacks in the past, but they’re under control these days…or so she thought. When her mum confesses she thinks Alice’s dad is having an affair and might be leaving her, Alice goes into a flat spin. With her mum on the end of the phone every day worrying and the school performance drawing ever closer, Alice’s panic attacks return in full swing, hyperventilation and exhaustion included. Alice’s friends think there’s a mystery at the heart of her mum’s suspicions, so they decide to investigate…but will it be in time for Alice to be able to take centre stage?
The HOPEWELL HIGH books are illustrated every few pages or so, and printed on yellow paper with plenty of space around the reader-friendly font, so people with dyslexia should find it a comfortable read.