Thursday 28 July 2016

Dara Palmer’s Major Drama by Emma Shevah

Reviewed by Jackie Marchant

This is a book about how nuns and noodles can change your life.  And don’t worry, that’s not a spoiler, it’s there in the first line.  As you can imagine from that, this is a light-hearted read, full of laughs and a lot of Major Dramas.  That’s not a spoiler either – it’s in the title.

But there is a serious side to this book.  Dara, convinced that she’s destined to become a major Hollywood star, knows she’ll land the main role in the school play without the need to audition.  So, when she’s not even given a walk-on part, she can only think of one reason why – the main part is Maria Von Trapp, blonde and Austrian, not dark and Cambodian like Dara.

At first I was perturbed that this could be the reason for not casting her in a white role – surely schools and teachers aren’t allowed to do that?  But then the truth creeps in – it could be that Dara might be better at over-acting than acting.  Her thinking she needs no drama lessons and refusal to even think about them could be part of the problem.  The fact she hero-worships two white, blonde Hollywood stars who couldn’t act their way out of a paper bag doesn’t help either.  Besides, as her friend Lacey points out, there are children from all backgrounds in the cast.  Huge sigh of relief, the school is not guilty of discrimination here.

The rest of the world is, however, different.  Dara, desperate for Hollywood, does not know a single well known Cambodian actor.  There are no posters of gorgeous Cambodian Hollywood stars and she can’t see how she can be cast in these roles looking the way she does.  Her ever helpful brother can count on the fingers on one hand how many there are in real life.  Makes you think. 

The other issue is that of her background.  Dara has been adopted into a white, blonde family.  Her brother is the natural child, her sister is adopted, but, being blonde and from Russia, there are no raised eyebrows when she’s introduced as a member of the Palmer family.  But her family are utterly supportive in her need to find out who she is.  Despite the major dramas in her life, Dara knows how lucky she is.

This is a book about identity and dreams.  It’s about accepting who you are and accepting others for who they are.  Most of all it’s a fun, heart-warming read.


1 comment:

Penny Dolan said...

This sounds an intriguing piece of storytelling from Emma Shevah. Thanks

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