I have only recently discovered the joys of novels written in free-verse. Kwame Alexander and Sarah Crossan are award-winning examples of authors who do this already. The ability to tell a whole scene of a story in a few carefully chosen and placed words, and making an emotional connections with their readers is a real talent. That’s why I was so thrilled to receive a novel in a similar vein but by a new author: Aimee Lucido.
‘In the Key Of Code,’ tells the story of Emmy. She’s just moved from Wisconsin to California with her musician parents and is struggling to fit into her new school. No one dresses like her, no one has packed lunches like hers, and to start with no one even asks her name! How is she so out of tune?
Trying to find her niche, Emmy can’t decide whether she should take classes which will hopefully nurture a deep-rooted (and as yet undiscovered musical talent) or try something different, like computer science club. With talented musicians as parents, Emmy thinks her future should lay down that path too. But perhaps it doesn’t, perhaps there’s another way Emmy can make music to her own beat.
I loved the way that coding language (Java) was gradually introduced over the course of the story as Emmy became more and more immersed in the beauty and rhythm of creating code. Telling parts of the story in code alongside free verse is something that I haven’t seen done before and worked very successfully. It was surprisingly easy to understand, even for a complete coding novice.
The musical references woven throughout (classical and contemporary) also captured my interest and provided an excellent vehicle through which Emmy could express her emotions and give insights into her state of mind. Unsurprisingly, considering the current undertones of discord at home and at school, her emotions are all over the place.
At heart, this is a wonderful story about growing up, finding your place and being yourself. The themes will resonate with young people everywhere, and the free verse style makes this a highly-accessible and motivating read. 10+
*Many thanks to Walker Books for sending me this title to review*