Review: 7 Days by Eve Ainsworth
I’ve owned this book for a while, but finally decided to pick it up after Eve Ainsworth was chosen as the British Books Challenge Author of the Month.
Jumping between the perspectives of Kez and Jess, 7 Days tells two sides of a story: the bully and the bullied.
Kez is the most popular girl in their year, and she makes Jess’s life a living hell because she’s overweight, poor and too scared to stand up for herself. Jess is almost as weak as Kez’s mother, who allows Kez’s alcoholic father to abuse her physically and verbally, never fighting back. She’s a coward, and she deserves to be treated like dirt.
Focusing on a week in the life of Kez and Jess, 7 Days is a quick but awkwardly paced read. Towards the end of the week Kez’s behaviour escalates at an alarming rate, but jumping between their perspectives every day is ineffective. Some of the chapters contained no notable events, and I regularly found myself skim reading rather than concentrating on the story.
I feel conflicted about 7 Days. Eve Ainsworth does a good job of proving that Kez has a reason for being a bully, but it reads like she’s trying to excuse her behaviour. Because Kez’s father is abusive and she has an unhappy home life, it’s as though Ainsworth is attempting to make us empathise and pity Kez. It’s not okay to victimise someone just because your life isn’t the happiest. Her behaviour is abhorrent, and the apparent justification of her actions made me extremely uncomfortable.
As well as that, I didn’t appreciate the attitude towards Jess’s weight. Not only does Kez bully her for being overweight, but her mother makes barbed comments towards her, too. Jess takes them all to heart and is extremely self-critical, but this is never properly addressed. Yes, the reality is that some teenagers are overweight, but I don’t think it would help anyone struggling with their own body image to see negative, abusive comments left unchecked.
However, there was one aspect of 7 Days that I thought was really well written: Jess’s family are working class. It’s something which isn’t frequently encountered in YA novels despite being the reality for a huge amount of teen readers, and this particular set-up – a single parent working as many hours as they physically can and still struggling to put food on the table – is easy to relate to. It would have been reassuring to see this representation when I was younger.
If you’re interested in learning more about 7 Days, check it out on Goodreads. If you decide to buy a copy, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link: I’ll earn a few pennies from your purchase. Thank you!
Have you read any of Eve Ainsworth’s novels, or are you yet to discover her writing?