Nia by Hana Efendic
This story is about a fourteen-year-old girl called Nia who, at the beginning of the novel lives in Blackwater Estate in Dublin with her family. She struggles with her two parents often and finds herself facing many difficulties with them. Her mother, Jane is a heavy alcoholic and abuses Nia throughout the novel. She messes up constantly, as a mother, as a wife and as the head of the house. Her actions are primarily one of the reasons why Nia cannot be fully content.
Karl is Nia's wealthy step-father who we think is no better than Jane. He stops paying the mortgage for the house, he finds himself a younger, prettier girlfriend and he has no contact with his real daughter, Stephanie. He stops living with them early on too. However, he isn’t as unfair as Jane and he proves this multiple times in the novel.
Stephanie is Nia's older sister by three years and is the complete contrast to Nia. They dispute often and we think that she is cold and mean until we realise that she is not at all. She is trying to make some peace in the house. She is affected by Jane and Karl’s antics as well and near the end of the novel, she shows us how deep her love for Nia really is which makes her more likable of a character.
Nia is searching for her happiness but whilst doing so, faces many challenges especially in her second year in school at St. Claire's Community College where she is bullied by a girl called Miranda. She eventually gets sent to the guidance counsellor, Mr. McCrery who ensures her that one day she will find her happiness and promises her that if she has any problems that she can gladly talk to him. In the meantime, Nia makes a Russian friend called Kunko who brings a lot of positive energy into her life until she is deported back to her home county by Jane.
Nia is then horribly sick, she has an asthma attack and wakes up in St. Pauline's Children's Hospital. She spends a month there and meets, Andrew, who delivers the food whilst making the majority of the patients smile and Gaz, a boy her age who she gradually falls in love with.
Karl collects her from the hospital and they discover that Jane and Stephanie have been evicted during her time there. They have moved to John’s house in Newgreen who is Jane's boyfriend. Nia is distressed about the house and she is appalled when she sees the new area where she will live. John gives her a place in the attic but not for long, because Jane comes home. She is furious that Nia is there, they get into a verbal fight and we learn why Jane could never love her.
Jane attacks her, tells her that she has to leave and drags her down the stairs, when all of a sudden, Stephanie walks through the door and is absolutely shocked to see Nia alive. But, Nia cannot stay there and she promises herself that she will not return. She decides to go to St. Claire’s, to talk to Mr. McCrery, the guidance counsellor and he helps her tremendously. He finds her somewhere to live, in Bigmoore and he enrols her in the local school too. Nia is well looked after and she can live, day in, day out without major difficulties.
In the Epilogue, eight years have passed and Nia has a successful job which she adores, working for the Department of Children and Youth Affairs in Dublin. She gets outstanding news that the charge that she has filed against Jane has passed and that she will be brought to court. This makes Nia think how utterly proud her fifteen-year-old self would have been now that goodness has prevailed. She finishes off the novel by saying that anyone can overcome the monstrosities in their life.