Spot the difference between these images. The image below fits our expectations as ‘heroine of our novel’. She floats so effortlessly with her fragile frame, her tiny arm gripping so tightly to the balloons. There is something so delicate and vulnerable about the Balloon Girl in this print.
But she is not our heroine, for Sylvie (above), is an over-weight child who is intrigued and tormented by the print which hangs on the wall in her room. She wishes that she could float away so boundless and free.
Balloon Girl is a modern day tale, a 21st Century fable if you like, which charts the lives of a troubled but enchanting teen, Sylvie and her mother, Anna. Through a series of flashbacks and memories, Sylvie explores how she became the eighteen year old girl that stands on Brighton beach broken and lost in the depths of melancholy and regret. The journey we are taken on will explore our position as parents, our responsibility as role-models and whether we can really blame our parents for our misgivings, and if we do, can we forgive?
What inspired the premise you may well ask? Many years ago I led a series of child obesity projects in Sussex working with both children and their families. The aim of the 12 week courses was to offer a framework in which families could find the causes for the weight gain and so use this knowledge to push forward with helping their child’s weight loss. I learnt a huge amount about role-modelling, blame, denial and the drivers of success, those being honesty and open-mindedness.
What works in these cases? A willingness to press the pause button at times, reflect on one’s own behaviour and consider how change is often needed, accept that certain habits need breaking and working towards change is so often necessary. But it also requires a lot of self-acceptance so is not always the easiest path.
This was the seed which prompted the theme. However, like all healthy seeds it grew into something bigger. This novel is much more than a tale of body image. It is about intricate family relationships, belief systems and conventionality. It may even evoke in some that depth of teenage passion which is all consuming and capable of reaching deep into the core.
Available to download as an e-book from Amazon