High-achieving student Llewella’s life is good, mostly.  She loves drama and has secured the plum part in the school play.  ‘Loo’ is a prefect and an active member of the school council.  She also writes a highly successful blog.  But she harbours anxieties and struggles to control panic attacks, for which she sees a counsellor.  The largest hole in Loo’s life however, is the absence of a ‘best friend’.  She’s never had one, nor someone she can totally confide in.

When new girl Aretha arrives at school, Loo is immediately enamoured.  Aretha seems to be everything Loo is not.  As Loo says, “being close to (Aretha) was like being friends with a famous person”.  What’s more, Loo and Aretha hit it off straight away and they become tight, seemingly inseparable friends.  But some of Aretha’s behaviour begins to trouble Loo – she can be callous and manipulative.  Soon the friendship comes under severe pressure and Loo is making rash decisions she is likely to regret.


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Natasha Devon

(UCLan Publishing)

Toxic is Llewella’s story.  ‘Loo’ is a high-achieving student.  She loves drama, especially Shakespeare, and has bagged the lead role in the school production of The Merchant of Venice.  She is also a prefect and on the school council.  Outside of school she writes a highly successful blog where she reviews toilets(!).  All in all, it’s a comfortable life.
Life does not come easy for Loo however.  She is in a constant battle against panic attacks and is unhappy with the way she looks, feeling she is overweight and something of an outsider.  Above all, she’s never had a ‘best friend’.  When new student Aretha arrives at school, Loo is instantly entranced.  Aretha is glamorous and streetwise.  Like Loo, she is mixed race and she is a singer and dancer.   Immediately, Llewella and Aretha hit it off and before long, Aretha has designed a diet for her.  Loo immerses herself into Aretha’s world and is determined to be the most loyal and true friend.
Doubts begin to creep in when Aretha says and does things which make Loo feel wretched. Soon enough, the anxieties Loo has been battling to control rise again to the surface. When an amazing opportunity comes along to start a career in the media, Loo turns it down for fear of upsetting Aretha’s plans.  Then there is the secret Loo’s Mum has been keeping from her…
Toxic is smart, very involving and has relatable and true characters.  It is a hugely welcome debut YA novel from Natasha Devon.



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