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If Everyone Knew Every Plant And Tree Paperback – November 8, 2013
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The Amazon Book Review
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About the Author
Julia grew up in the north of England in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Number four of six children—two brothers and three sisters, born within eight years of each other. Her musical parents immersed all the children in music and encouraged them to take an active part in its pursuit. All siblings played instruments and attended Catholic primary and secondary schools. Julia participated in acting, singing, instrument-playing, and gymnastics. Her mother was a French teacher and her father, a physics lecturer, so the family benefitted from long summer holidays spent camping in Europe, particularly France.
After studying Music, English and French at A-level, Julia attended Manchester University, acquiring BA Honours degree in French with Drama. Gained Post Graduate Certificate in Education to teach French, English and Drama at secondary school. Later achieved diploma in Education of the Deaf and Level One and Two in British Sign Language.
After teaching French in Manchester, Julia lived in the US for two years working for a law firm and acting. On returning to the UK, she worked in a primary school in west London, first in mainstream, then in a unit for pupils with hearing impairment. She was employed as an advisory teacher for deaf children ages 0-19, supporting them and their famiies at home, school and college. Her time in London saw her continuing with acting and gaining an acting agent.
She moved to Cornwall in the south west of England in 2007, where she teaches and writes.
People (especially teenagers with challenging lives), teaching, speaking French, singing, playing piano and guitar, acting, photography, Art (especially modern), music (particularly house & garage, jazz, French impressionist, Bach, guitar), architecture, walking in nature, gardens, the ocean, psychology, natural therapies, nutrition, feminism, global politics.
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Top customer reviews
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When he turns to his older brothers for support, Ollie finds Nathan has become angry and aloof, drowning his sorrow in his skateboarding, while Sam immerses himself in his studies. Looking for some sort of balance to his emotional upheaval, he turns to his best friend Kamal and Poppy Teasdale, the girl he has a crush on, but these two may not be enough to help him through the crisis.
The plot is well-written and told from Ollie's perspective as Julia Johnston sets the stage with Lily's debilitating illness that continues to be undiagnosed. As Ollie grapples with his feelings of anger, frustration and powerlessness to help his beloved sister, he becomes aloof from his mother who's devoted to her daughter, to the exclusion of her three sons. With clever dexterity Julia Johnston weaves together threads of a story that look not only at the impact of the illness on Lily, the strain on the family and their disengagement with each other , but also Ollie's struggle to keep from drowning under the weight of his emotions.
I loved the way the author tied Ollie's use of Latin names of plants and trees to his feelings as well as employing their textures, colours and smells to infuse a soothing balm to Ollie and his father's broken hearts. Even Nurse Celia's letters to her Mam lighten the intensity of the atmosphere with an update on the situation and a sense of her family's normalcy. With her last letter, and Thomas Diamond's there's an awareness that life goes on even after death.
The characters like the plot are well-developed, and unforgettable in this real-life drama. Oliver Timothy Campbell is a teen who endures bullying at school, is shy in class and struggles with his first crush. Lacking self-esteem, he tries to run away from his pain and guilt as he grows distant and depressed. Yet through all his problems Ollie never loses his spark of humour. Kamal is Ollie's highly intelligent and quirky best friend who's haunted by the death of his parents. He's a loyal friend who makes Ollie laugh with his antics, with his wealth of words, and his high aspirations. Polly Teasdale is the dream-girl who's confident and compassionate, but only sees Ollie as a friend. Anna Campbell is the fragile, hyper -anxious mother who loses perspective during Lily's illness. In her devotion and self-sacrifice to Lily, although she's kind and caring to the other patients, she isolates herself from her sons. Ben Campbell is the worried and frustrated father who grapples with his stepson Nathan's rebellion, never getting to the root of any of his sons problems. All these characters and more add passion and energy to a drama that climaxes in renewal and healing.
Julie Johnston's novel is beautifully written, rich with its kaleidoscope of emotions, and mesmerizing from the first page to the last. I loved "If Everyone Knew Every Plant and Tree" and rate it highly.
I have read the quirky ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night time’ and it reminded me a bit of that but I would actually say it’s better and that more happens. Even though the most powerful feelings it evoked were longing and regret, the writing is so goddam FUNNY! Intelligence, charm, quirky language, culture, poetry, wit and perhaps overall, compassion, comes out from every page. I will keep going back to this book like a favourite film. In fact, it would make an amazing film – I bet it will end up as one. And if it does, the author should write the screen play as her clever knack with dialogue is an absolute delight.'