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Emily Critchley

  • Original Title: NOTES ON MY FAMILY
  • Publication date: October 2017
  • Country: GB
  • 272 print pages
  • Dramedy


  • Epoch: Contemporary
  • Time Period: 21st century
  • Location setting: United Kingdom
  • Themes: FAMILY, Siblings, Dysfunctional family, SOCIAL CHRONICLES, Friendship, CHARACTERS, Minorities, PEOPLE facing life, Social relations, Diversity, Strong Female Character, Identity crisis, Commitment, Tolerance, Separation, Resilience, SOCIETY DYSFUNCTIONS, Exclusion


13-year-old Lou is shocked when her parents reveal they are separating. Worse, it is due to her father having an affair with a student at their school. Living with undiagnosed dyspraxia and anxiety, Lou struggles as things at school get worse.


Nominated for the 2019 CILIP Carnegie medal (the UK’s oldest and most prestigious award for children’s literature)
Longlisted for the 2018 Branford Boase awards

Debut novel.

Emily Critchley won The Other Prize for best original play (2003), the John Kinsella-Tracy Ryan prize for poetry (2004), the Jane Martin Prize for Poetry (2011) and was a runner up in the Pacuare Poetry Competition (2015).


A vivid present tense account of life in a dysfunctional family told by a perceptive thirteen-year-old girl with a sense of irony and humour.
Lou’s mission in life is to stay invisible and serve out the prison sentence that is school. That’s it. And so far, she’s done pretty well at it. Until her father announces that he’s in love with a sixth-form student at the school where he teaches (Lou’s school, no less).
Suddenly Lou’s quest for invisibility is not so easy, and she finds herself a new target of unwanted attention, such as being beaten up at lunchtime, pushed into puddles and not to mention the giant “PEDO” (which Lou notes with distaste, is not even the correct spelling) graffiti on their front porch.
Also following her dad’s announcement, Lou’s older sister Sarah declares she’ll never speak to him again, her brother Mikey retreats further into his own world, and her mother starts shoplifting and burning their belongs as the result of a short psychotic episode. (At least Sarah got a date with one of the firemen.)
Lou’s entire world, both at home and at school, seems to be crumbling around her. It’s a lot to handle (because she finds dealing with people difficult at the best of times). But when a new girl, Faith, arrives in Lou’s class, she’s different to anyone Lou’s ever met, and actually seems to laugh with her – not at her.
Faith’s family are possibly even stranger than Lou’s, and for the first time Lou begins to wonder what ‘normal’ really looks like, and whether it’s the people who are different that make a difference.

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  • Author’s biography

    Emily Critchley (born in 1980) is a British experimental writer and academic. She was born in Athens, Greece and grew up in Dorset, England. Her mother is Greek.
    She is the winner of The Other Prize for best original play (2003), the John Kinsella-Tracy Ryan prize for poetry (2004), the Jane Martin Prize for Poetry (2011) and was a runner up in the Pacuare Poetry Competition (2015).
    NOTES ON MY FAMILY is her debut novel.