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[Review] Tremendous Things by Susin Nielsen

by Rose Gant

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Tremendous Things by Susin Nielsen

Wilbur has spent his teens being bullied and now he's sure he's nothing but a loser: his best friend is 85 years old, and his only talent is playing the triangle in the school band. Things start to look up when a mix-up with the French exchange programme results in Wilbur being assigned a girl to look after - an amazing, sophisticated, beautiful French girl called Charlie. Wilbur is sure he's in love, and his sometime friend Alex has a plan to give Wilbur the makeover that will get Charlie to love him back. But the course of true amour never did run smooth.

Tremendous Things is a joyous tale of love, friendship and owning who you really are. Nielsen preaches the importance of self-love and defying the odds to overcome hatred and fear in this hilarious and heart-warming story that captures truly captures the highs and lows of first love.

Wilbur’s time at school hasn’t been easy and bully Tyler is making sure of that. Fortunately Wilbur has the best people around him to help with that. His friend Alex, his two mums and his elderly neighbour Sal. When French exchange student Charlie arrives his friends realise it is time for an intervention; time to reinvent Wilbur, but will the new Wilbur impress Charlie and put an end to Tyler’s tormenting?

This story oozes with self-acceptance and the message of not being afraid to stand out and show who you really are is so important to readers of all ages. Alongside this I also adored Wilbur’s family and friends who were there to support him at every hurdle he faced – Nielsen’s writing is a testament to the strength of the characters as they were all so pure and loveable. Sal in particular was a stand-out and the friendship illustrated between him and Wilbur was so wonderful to see in a YA novel, especially as they both ended up teaching one another about their respective life experiences at the beginning and ends of their journeys.

Tremendous Things is such an uplifting story that you are sure to fall in love with. Wilbur is a wonderful protagonist who you desperately want to succeed thanks to his adorable wit and charm. Nielsen is a master of crafting original stories with endearing casts of characters and her writing only gets better and better. A perfect heart-warming read for the summer which you won’t be able to put down.