By Author / Illustrator

Natasha Devon


Romance & Relationships

Age range(s)



UCLan Publishing




Paperback / softback




'A little babushka is made when you're young and something happens to you that leaves a scar...'

Cerys Williams has swapped her village in the Welsh Valleys for art college in London and the spare room in glamorous Auntie Wyn's flat. Cerys knows there's more out there for her in the world; it's the year 2000 - she definitely doesn't have to just get married and have babies and wear beige and cook stews for the rest of her life, even if Mam thinks she should.  But Cerys's London is not glossy or cool or sophisticated, despite what Adept, her favourite magazine, has told her. It's lonely and overwhelming and confusing. Until, that is, she meets him...

The prequel to Toxic. A coming-of-age novel about love - the love you think you know and the love you never realised you had, all along.

Praise for Toxic:   'A hugely accomplished debut. Menacing, heartfelt and often very funny.' Juno Dawson.  'Such an exciting new author of YA fiction.' Holly Bourne.  'An astute and pin sharp exploration of the joy, pain and toxicity of teen female friendship. So real it hurts.' Sara Barnard



"A little babushka is made when you're young and something happens to you that leaves a scar…" I thought this was a really good way of imagining the way that we are formed from our past experiences.

The main protagonist in Babushka, Cerys Williams, has left her sleepy welsh village to stay with her Auntie Wyn so that she can attend her London Art college. But the London life isn't as glam as she thought it would be. She has unwittingly attracted the attention of some mean girls at the college and they are making life uncomfortable for her. She is lonely and confused and then she meets Darsh. Darsh is a lecturer at her college. He steps in to keep Cerys safe after a spiking incident at a party and they begin a relationship that they have to conduct in secret.

It took me a couple of chapters to get fully absorbed in the story as Babushka jumped about in the timeline at the beginning and I'll confess that I found the lecturer/student romantic relationship awkward to read as a member of staff myself. I'd like to think that this just wouldn't happen in real life! Setting that aside, I know that this book would likely be very much enjoyed by older teenagers. The spiking incident at the party was dealt with well, with good advice given and I loved the way that Cerys was able to confide in and be supported by her family at the end.

I think this book will be enjoyed by young adults that like contemporary fiction and enjoy reading about real life dilemmas. It was an emotional read that kept me turning the pages to find out which path Cerys would decide to take. The ending was a good one!

Content of note: spiked drink, teenage pregnancy, cancer and bereavement.

322 pages / Reviewed by Clair Bossons, school librarian

Suggested Reading Age 14+


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