There was a lovely collection of books and reviews over the past two months, covering a wide range of topics, characters and locations. It’s exciting to see so many books reviewed in the lead up to the end of the year – and the gift buying season!
One book – Cooper Bartholomew is Dead by Rebecca James was reviewed three times. This alternating perspectives book deals with the events leading up to the death of the title character – a death which was ruled suicide by the police, but which is being questioned by Cooper’s girlfriend. Shelleyrae describes is as more psychological drama than a thriller, pointing out that it lacked the expected drama. However, she found that narrative compelling, partly due to the investment in the character.
All four protagonists felt genuine in ways to me that other characters in the New Adult genre have rarely done, I believed in their emotion, motivation and actions. The characters have distinct voices, which is important given the structure of the narrative, and are complex individuals. The relationship dynamics are also convincingly drawn.
Shaheen spoke about how the structure of the book – with four narrators and a timeline that jumped between then and now – worked well as the author was able to completely control how much information the reader has.
Shelleyrae also looked at Rain Dance by Karen Wood, an Australian rural romance for young adults (I’ve noticed an increase in this particular genre recently, which is really interesting). Holly and her family are forced to relocate from a coastal home to a rural area after the bank takes their house. Meanwhile Kaydon is shocked and suspicious when he returns from boarding school to find that his father is expanding their cattle farm during drought conditions. Shelleyrae talks of how the book has a sweet romance, but also action scenes and a sense of intrigue. She also talks about how there’s a good sense of reality through the book, through the strains on both Kaydon and Holly’s families and through the experiences of the minor characters.
Bree reviewed Laurinda by Alice Pung, the story of Lucy who has just won an Equal Access scholarship to an exclusive girls school. The school is ruled by ‘the Cabinet’ a trio of girls who are able to control the students and – at times – the teachers of the school. Lucy finds herself drawn into the world of ‘the Cabinet’ and struggles to hold onto herself and her beliefs.
Laurinda is a very clever, funny portrayal of the school portion of life as well as gender and the role of friendship and power. Lucy is frank in her observations in her letters and yet at the same time, she can see herself changing, the more time she spends at Laurinda . . . Lucy’s is a wonderful voice, full of life and she gives real vision to the life she leads and how Laurinda and the lives of the other students there, is very different to hers.
Just before I sat down to write this post, the shortlist for the 2014 Queensland Literacy Awards came out and it was wonderful to see so many Australian Women Writers on both the Young Adult and Children’s shortlists.
In the Young Adult category there was:
- The Incredible Here and Now by Felicity Castagna (reviewed by Welcome to My Library)
- The Accident by Kate Hendrick (reviewed by Belle’s Bookshelf)
- The Cracks in the Kingdom by Jaclyn Moriarty
In the Children’s category there was:
More wonderful books by Australian Women Writers to buy, borrow from your local library or gift to someone special!
YA novels were my ticket to ‘coolness’ in high school, when my speed reading led to an invitation to choose new books for the school library. I continued reading children’s and YA books long after I was supposed to ‘grow up’ – something which served me very well when I became a teacher and was known all over the school as ‘the teacher with the books’. I’m currently on maternity leave, enjoying the rich world of picture books with my toddler, saving libraries and sporadically blogging over at Adventures of a Subversive Reader