Books by Julia Bell

DIRTY WORK by Julia Bell
Released: Jan. 1, 2008

The dirty work suggested in the title might be the sex acts abductors forced on teen girls, or perhaps the phrase alludes to the nasty business of prying the girls from their families. Hope Tasker, who is British, and Oksana Droski, who grew up in Russia, both are held captive by men eager for cash. They will be sold as sex slaves. Oksana mistakenly enters the sleazy business desperate to escape hunger and poverty. Her situation is contrasted by Hope, a kidnapped child of privilege who ruefully remembers friends gleefully allowing their thongs to peek out from low-cut jeans. Hope's captors now demand a much more alluring sexiness than flirty glimpses of underwear. Much of the story's background focuses on Oksana and the circumstances leading her to believe she's hired for legitimate work. The lengthy descriptions of her early struggles become a letdown from the crackling violence that Bell promisingly offers in the first third of the story. Although this work lacks the quality of Patricia McCormick's Sold (2006), it is a logical transition for teen fiction dealing with human trafficking. (Fiction. YA)Read full book review >
MASSIVE by Julia Bell
Released: Jan. 1, 2006

A sad, sharp tale of food and pain. "If I was as big as her I'd kill myself," says Carmen's mum on page one, pointing at a picture of Marilyn Monroe. Mum's fanatical obsession with thinness is dangerous for both herself and Carmen. She calls Carmen names and forbids her to eat, putting both of them on inane diets while discussing nothing but food. Dad gives Carmen Big Macs and fry-ups, but Mum soon takes Carmen away to Birmingham. Carmen is often silent; Bell skillfully writes the food issues blatantly but leaves the emotions subtle, with Carmen's pain shown rather than told. Mum's estranged sister lives in Birmingham and warms Carmen up with nail polish and affection in her nail salon—"like a cave full of treasure," while Mum's old friend Billy gives bumbling support. Neither can outweigh Mum's influence, however, and Carmen has a hard path through bulimia, cutting and bullying (from both sides) to somehow survive. Grim, sorrowful, real. (resources) (Fiction. YA)Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 1, 2002

"Quite interesting for sociological reasons, and for impressions of these many locations, but ultimately the collection inadvertently paints small-city England as an unvaried and rather grim place."
A hodge-podge of short fiction by young English writers, gathered "from every corner of the country" to show what Bell and Gay call "a picture of England at the beginning of the twenty-first century." Read full book review >