Lemmie’s parents are ‘nice but permanently busy’ – too busy to have paid much attention to the trouble she’s had from bullying in her previous school. She’s had a fresh start, in a new town, but hasn’t yet confided in her new friends. However, she has told them about Rose Rouge, her 18-year-old sister, and the ‘marshmallow magic’ Rose has taught her. When the chief bully moves to the new school too and the bullying starts again, Lemmie uses Rose’s ‘magic’ to help her through.
This is a book of surprises; the distinctly girly, pink cover gives the expectation of a rather less thoughtful book, and it is some time before we discover the truth about Rose. In a very sympathetic way, McCombie addresses aspects of teen life: trusting friends, getting parents and teachers to listen to you, ultimately having faith in your own strategies and personality. Lemmie’s busy parents are an all too common problem these days, while her friends are remarkably, if somewhat unrealistically, mature and well-adjusted, resulting in an affirming, heart-warming text with a positive message for children who feel overwhelmed and powerless. There is a well-structured description of the bully’s systematic infiltration of the group; however, she is not given a chance to redeem herself, and there is no analysis of her motivation, which would, perhaps, offer a more rounded picture.