Foley Russel and That Poor Girl, by Rebecca Bloomer

A million questions pour into my head.  What IS that up your nose? Does it hurt? What’s wrong with you? Are you dying? What happens when you sneeze? I ask the most polite of them. ‘What’s your name’?
‘Lily Ashford’.
‘Foley Russel.’ I shake her white, white hand. She feels surprisingly normal’. P. 15

‘When Foley Russel is assigned to do a book report and to meet a character from that book, he hopes for someone interesting like a circus midget or a Formula One driver. He’s not anticipating a girl in a wheelchair, and he’s certainly not expecting to like her.’ [From the Book description].

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You might fear a book of 80 pages featuring a girl with cystic fibrosis would be depressingly all about this severe illness but it isn’t. Instead we have 13 year old Foley’s relationship with his mother, and the way he matures on meeting Lily. He hardly knows what her illness is but hearing strangers murmer, ‘That Poor Girl’, quickly makes him furious.  It’s also about Foley’s relationship with books. Foley and books don’t go well together. This hinders his attempt to do a book report based on what turns out to be a story written by Lily. He struggles gamely and gets as far as the cover on the first attempt, and the first paragraph on the second. It’s no use. What on earth does her story mean? He decides to ask Lily herself and soon he isn’t seeing an oxygen tube but a friend to hang out with.

Your reviewer is way older than the Young Adult market, let me tell you, but I smiled through this read, enjoying Foley’s take on the world, and I got a gulping moment near the end.  I was surprised to also learn a few things along the way. Rebecca Bloomer slips in sidebars of information, rather like printed hyper links, and I discovered that the slope for a ramp that best suits ‘wheelies’ is one in fourteen (one metre high to each 14 metres along) and the origin of the expression ‘cat got your tongue’ (its gruesome) as well as learning a bit about ‘CF’, cystic fibrosis. Entertaining and recommended.

Rebecca Bloomer has also written UnEarthly and UnEarthed . (Plonk a paw on those links to  read my reviews here at Baffled Bear Books.) Also Willow Farrington Bites Back, all from Odyssey Books. Her Mae-be Roses looks at teenage pregnancy and is read in Australian schools. You can learn more about Rebbeca Bloomer at GoodReads.

Where to find Foley Russel and That Poor Girl: at,  at Amazon and AbeBooks.  ISBN13:  9780980690958.

The cover art by is by Nina Shelby Louise. More of her work is at You can see more about about Cystic Fibrosis here at

Mark is guardian and blundering typist for Mawson, one of this bright world’s few published bears. He is the writer-bear of It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In. ISBN: 978-1-922200-44-0



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