The eponymous Ellie Pillai is aged 15, a British Indian girl from a sleepy English village. Her mother and father are extremely over-protective, having lost her younger brother Amis to leukaemia at the age of twelve. For her GCSE examinations her parents want Ellie to take computer science. They want Ellie to be qualified for a good job when she is grown up. They also believe that since she is not particularly good-looking she needs to demonstrate her intelligence.
Ellie has a secret, hidden from her parents. She is a gifted musician and potential dramatist. For this reason she opts for drama as her exam subject instead of computer science. She has not yet told her parents of this choice. What will be the consequences when they learn that she is entered for drama?
This novel is a bildungsroman about Ellie’s voyage of self-discovery, relying on two compelling themes. Ellie comes from a different social order and must attempt to integrate herself into a different society. Readers who come from such backgrounds will find the subject central to their own preoccupations. The subject also has relevance for those who come from more typically British backgrounds, since we all inhabit one world. The second theme is the essential nature of the individual’s quest for self-fulfilment, which operates despite the obstacles often placed in its path by an obstructive society and its rulebook. Ellie is a commanding character and for those who take the girl to heart the story will command interest. At 464 pages however this reviewer found the book, targeted as it is for a YA readership, too long to deliver its message with the maximum impact.