Ginger was a plump girl with pigtails and red hair, and all she remembers of her childhood is being bullied. She doesn’t remember that she might have had people on her side, and she sees, when she looks through a photo album, that she was pretty when she was little. Ginger is insecure. With parents who never really talk to her and a best ‘friend’ who is completely in control of Ginger and knows it, Ginger starts doubting her status as most popular girl in Year Eight and starts looking around her, looking at how people never talk to her because they’re intimidated by her. Her best friend Shannon Kershaw never lets her express her real views on things. On the first day of Year Eight, Ginger sees a girl called Emily Croft crying in the toilet. She goes and comforts her, despite Shannon’s reluctance, and find out that Emily’s best friend Meg has moved away. She remembers an ice skating party she had when she was little, when Emily was one of the only people who turned up. She makes friends with her, but Shannon has other things in mind.
Shannon makes Emily a ‘project’, a project which includes hair dye, make up, hair straighteners and new clothes. This was never part of Ginger’s plan. Emily is ‘in’ and in her excitement she doesn’t notice that Shannon is pushing Ginger to the side, leaving her out. Ginger realises that she was just Shannon’s toy, and Emily is a newer, more fun version of her.
Ginger also meets Sam Taylor, a misfit who doodles in Tippex on his non-school-uniform jeans, skips class, drinks blue lemonade, plays the saxophone and regularly forms one person bands with strange names. Shannon likes him at first but when she realises that he’s interested in Ginger, not her, she announces that he’s ‘weird’. They date each other secretly, because Ginger is afraid of Shannon. Sam tries to get her to stand up to Shannon.
At school, the new English teacher who Shannon has a crush on and will not stop pursuing, suggests that they form a school magazine. Shannon makes up the name, ‘S’cool’, and becomes the Editor, taking credit for everything.
Just when it seemd like nothing could get worse, Shannon suggests that she joins her 13th birthday party and the magazine opening party together and invites Mr Hunter and a group of older boys who bring alcohol. That’s when everything starts getting out of hand, and Ginger has to think seriously about whether she wants to stay with pushy, mean Shannon or be a part of the ‘freak’ crowd…
I enjoyed this book because I know that a lot of people can relate to it. It was very moving, and at times funny. All of Cathy Cassidy’s books have me hooked, reading under the table at dinner and even reading at sleepovers (gasp!) I thought Ginger’s character was built up very well over the course of the book, until by the end you felt that you were actually friends with her. She sounds twelve, even though her thoughts are written by a middle aged woman, which is always good as the book becomes a lot less believable if the ‘child’ who’s telling it thinks like an adult. It would appeal to all ages- from ten year olds to adults. The ideas are very good- there isn’t just one central problem, there are lots of different things going on which are all resolved by the end, leaving you satisfied. The ending was a big surprise to me, because with realistic books you can usually tell what’s going to happen at the end and with Gingersnaps I couldn’t. Great book!
Genre: Realistic/ dealing with issues
Estimated reading age: Ten and up
Price on Amazon: Paperback £9.99, Kindle edition £4.99
Main characters: Ginger, Shannon, Sam, Emily Croft
Rating: ★★★ A great book, dealing with issues which many people will be familiar with