Inspiring Young Readers

posted on 10 Jun 2024

Looking for Lucie by Amanda Addison

Like Lucie in this novel, I can well remember that slightly nauseous but excited feeling on ‘A' level results day. She is reasonably optimistic but is also waiting in trepidation for the results of a secret DNA test. The beginning of this contemporary YA novel suggests that the outcome of both will be a turning point in her life.

She lives with her mum, step-dad and younger sister Maisie in a quiet, rather dull Norfolk village where she explains that the most exciting thing that happens is the grunts and groans of mating muntjac deer in the garden. She is hoping to go to a London Art School but needs to find out more about her identity - hence the DNA test bought with exam reward money from her doting Nana Pat.

When collecting her 'A’ level results from college, Lucie meets Nav for the first time. He is a high achieving science student who dazzles her with his knowledge of genetics:

I can’t make out whether she’s interested in this or not. She looks annoyed. Or maybe more upset than annoyed. Why would someone be upset about eye colour?’

The reader knows that he has unwittingly stumbled onto a subject that is very important to her. As they chat more, both realise that they have a connection and want to meet again.

Lucie soon finds out that Nav is very knowledgeable about a range of intriguing subjects that include science, statistics and the history of Pakistan:

‘It’s like clicking on a new tab. The Nav tab.'

This interesting young man sees the world in a very creative way, just like an artist. Together they are excited to learn about how maths and art can complement one another.

Apart from being a great story that tracks an intense relationship, it is also about exploring identity. Lucie looks different from the majority of people in Norfolk and is mightily fed up with people talking about this, telling her that she looks Romanian, is a Disney Pocahontas lookalike and asking her where she ‘really’ comes from. Even her photography lecturer has told her that she looks like the Afghan girl in the famous National Geographic photo:

‘Nobody else’s appearance gets as many comments as mine does. Are teachers even allowed to do that? It felt intrusive.’

While Lucie is delving into her own DNA, we get glimpses into secrets held by her own mother and Nav’s parents. As the fascinating story unfolds she speculates about her father’s identity - could she be ‘the daughter of a Persian prince, the love child of a Spanish artist, the sole heiress to a castle in Italy?

When at last the pieces of the puzzle fall into place, her family history provides a powerful inspiration for her textile art. At her final end of course exhibition, Nav acknowledges her stunning work as ‘almost as beautiful as the workings out of a complex equation’ - a true compliment.

I strongly recommend this engaging story published by Neem Tree Press, an independent publisher of award winning books that aim ‘ to change and broaden perspectives’. It should be available to order from your local independent bookshop or direct from


Karen Argent

June 2024