The Ex-Files

Pete Johnson

Puffin Books


Jul 2006

‘You’re here because you can’t believe how miserable you feel. In fact, right now it’s crushing you. And you don’t know how you’re going to get through it.’

Split between two narrative voices, those of Bella and Danny, ‘The Ex-Files’ uncovers the feelings of rejection and loss following the end of a relationship and brilliantly charts the onset of changed behaviour and attitude that often follow. Balance is achieved between normalising these feelings ‘ depicting the way people tend to be afflicted ‘ whilst sensitively maintaining the individuality of both cases.
‘The Ex-Files’ themselves are a secret organisation led by the enigmatic Rupert and Juliette from the seemingly unlikely though remarkably homely environs of ‘The Copper Kettle’, a local tea-room serving fresh-baked scones. Keenly aware of the mentality of the ‘dumpee’ and of the power wielded over them by the ‘dumper’, Rupert and Juliette have established a professionally run organisation offering advice and a twenty-four-hour listening service.
The novel succeeds admirably in taking seriously and not devaluing the emotional-base of teenage relationships and therefore not downplaying the impacts of their demise. Readers become more and more involved in the stories of Bella whose seemingly sensitive and philosophical boyfriend Luc has fallen for Bella’s best-friend Andrea and Danny whose infatuation with Nicole has led to his being over-possessive thereby eventually losing her’ As the stories unfold both guidance and reassurance are imparted through the maxims of the society: ‘As Rupert says, ‘Don’t let life happen to you ‘ stay in control.”
It is no surprise that when first relationships draw to a close, recipients within them can feel their world is eroding away. Having little experience to draw upon and to contextualise the depressing sense of loss can weigh especially heavy and appear unending. Through fiction Pete Johnson here deftly provides perspective. Not only should ‘The Ex-Files’ be essential post-relationship reading, it is fundamental for all adults who have forgotten just how serious first relationships truly do feel’

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