Gemma’s fed up: life on the estate is bad; Sian is a bully at school; and Gemma’s dad is in prison. But things start to change after Cowgirl (Kate) brings a cow for Gemma’s gran to look after. Then Cowgirl brings down the rest of the herd, and so there are 12 cows being looked after on the estate. This creates a sense of community, and people start to stand up to the antisocial behaviour and the petty crimes that have been making the estate a bad place to live. However, Cowgirl’s dad needs the cows back. He wants to sell them to Mr Mostyn to clear a debt. Now that the cows are part of the community, no one wants to give them up. Can Gemma come up with a solution that helps everyone, or will the cows have to go back to the farm and then the slaughterhouse?
Cowgirl is a funny and appealing book, and Gemma is an engaging and very human protagonist. Humour runs throughout the book, but the narrative does not shy aware from social issues such as antisocial behaviour, bullying and prison. The novel is set in south Wales, and it creates a great sense of atmosphere and of place. Finally, G R Gemin has completely captured the voice of a 12-year-old girl.