I’m finding it hard to believe that 2013 has begun already. 2012 flew by in a blur of excellent books and I’d like to share the highlights of the contemporary and realistic YA fiction reviewed for the Australian Women Writers challenge this year.
By far the biggest theme throughout the books reviewed was growing up, and that also often involved relationships, whether it be with family, friends or romantically. Jess from The Readers’ Haven loves Laura Buzo’s writing and regards Holier Than Thou to be full of “wit, grit and feeling”. Holier Than Thou is a book perfect for those who consider themselves too old for YA (really there is no such thing!), as Laura takes a look at what it’s like for a girl in her early twenties moving out of home, working at her first full-time job, and moving further apart from her childhood friends.
Other books that fall into this category include: I’ll Tell You Mine by Pip Harry (reviewed by Bree at All the Books I can Read), Notes from the Teenage Underground by Simmone Howell, One Long Thread by Belinda Jeffrey, Preloved by Shirley Marr (reviewed by Belle at Belle’s Bookshelf), Cargo by Jessica Au (reviewed by Sian Campbell), Losing It by Julia Lawrinson, and Friday Brown by Vikki Wakefield. These books have a focus on family relationships, whether it involves losing a parent, getting to know a parent who was absent from childhood, or the death of a sibling, or an emphasis on the awkwardness, excitement, and pain of growing up.
Reviews of books involving death or mental illness also appeared throughout the year, highlighting these subjects in an accessible way: Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta, Shift by Em Bailey (reviewed by Tsana’s Reads & Reviews), Divine Clementine by Hayley S Kirk and Everything Left Unsaid by Jessica Davidson.
This year there have also been some beautiful examples of YA verse: Cinnamon Rain by Emma Cameron and Against the Tide by Irini Savvides. Both capture the essence of Australia so well, and the writing allows the reader to feel as though they are sharing the narrator’s thoughts resulting in a wonderful reading experience.
The reviews showcase many newly released books such as The Reluctant Hallelujah by Gabrielle Williams (reviewed by Danielle at Alpha Reader) and Love-shy by Lili Wilkinson, as well as older titles such as Queen Kat, Carmel and St Jude Get a Life by Maureen McCarthy (reviewed by This Charming Mum), Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar (reviewed by Liza at Lizabelle), and A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley (reviewed by Erin at Healing Scribe).
And last but not least, two books that are contemporary fiction with paranormal elements are Queen of the Night by Leanne Hall (reviewed by the Female Factory) and Night Beach by Kirsty Eagar (reviewed by Lauren at The Australian Bookshelf). Both could be enjoyed by fans of either genre, and they are evocative, captivating stories.
2012 has been a fantastic year book-wise and I’m looking forward to reading more Aussie YA by women writers, as well as AWW participants’ reviews, in 2013.
I have read a couple of YA books in recent years just to see what all the fuss is about and I liked them well enough but have not actively sought out any more. Perhaps at 45 I am too old to remember what being a teenager was all about? Back when I was that age I don’t remember there being books specifically for us – I think we went straight from kid’s books to adult ones.
But thanks for your wrap up…I am interested to see what themes and ideas are being explored in YA books and it’s good to know that Australian women writers are providing great content in this arena too.
LOL Bernadette …. being rather older than you, that’s for sure what we did though there were YA books around in the 1970s (though mostly American as far as I’m aware – SE Hinton is one American female writer I’m aware of)! Most of the YA material I’ve read was during my own kids growing up.
I need to add some YA to my reading list this year I think. Thanks for the wrap up!
Great wrap-up Amanda. This is not an area I read in now – since my son and daughter have grown up – but we just watched Melina Marchetta’s Looking for Alibrandi on DVD the other night. I loved that book and have always meant to read Saving Francesca. What a great depth we have of YA writing in Australia.