I wanted to read something a little lighter than my previous read, The Girl on the Train. Cowgirl was the perfect choice – authentic, charming and narrated by a relatable, standout voice. It cheered me right up.
I’m not particularly a fan of cows. I’m a London girl who hasn’t had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with them, although I’d occasionally see them from my university residence in the middle of the South Downs National Park. I had to cautiously tiptoe past them on the way to the tea shop with my friends. I mean, they’re huge. But Cowgirl made me wish I had a cow in my back garden.
I’ll start from the beginning. Gemma lives on the Mawr Estate in South Wales, a small, close-knit but impoverished community. Gemin does a fabulous job of seeing the world through the eyes of a child. It reminded me of growing up in London and being somewhat aware of the poverty and crime – and amount of diversity within the city – but not fully understanding it enough for it to affect the way I lived my life. Gemma doesn’t have a lot of money, her brother loves nothing more than to torment her, and her Dad has been in prison for so long that she is struggling to connect with him. But she can deal with it all as long as she has her bike – Gemma often takes it out into the Welsh countryside, away from everything and everyone.
Gemma’s part of the popular crowd but all that changes when she reluctantly becomes friends with an outsider known as Cowgirl, a quiet girl who works on her family’s farm and whose job is to look after the cows. As Gemma gets to know Cowgirl and her family a little bit better – spurred on by her outspoken Gran – she goes on an incredibly mad mission to help her new friend, save a herd of cows, and revive the community she loves.
Cowgirl was a delight to read, covering some pretty serious issues, and tackling them responsibly, while sending the reader on a hilarious, uplifting adventure. I can see why it’s up for the Branford Boase Award 2015. Funny and heartwarming, Cowgirl is a contemporary middle grade story that people of any age should pick up when they’re having a bad day.
Published: 26th March 2014
Publisher: Nosy Crow