It’s been another good couple of months for non-Speculative YA reviews, with a mixture of new books and old; books which have been heavily reviewed and those which have quietly arrived with beautifully written recommendations.
One new book which has arrived with quite a bit of excitement is The Guy, The Girl, The Artist and His Ex by Gabrielle Williams. This was reviewed by Nalini at Dark Matter Zine who highly recommends this novelisation of a true lift art theft.
“The Guy, The Girl, The Artist and His Ex is somewhat like the Bank Job but, although inspired by real-life whimsy, it’s not a comedy. It’s more an ‘issues’ book about families, relationships, mental illness and consequences. A quick read and well worth your time.”
With its inclusion in the Stella Longlist, it’s no surprise to see more reviews of Laurinda by Alice Pung. Carolyn found that the book was:
” . . . a brilliant account of what it is like to be a teenager suddenly thrust into an alien environment while at the same time struggling to find her own identity. She [Alice Pung] raises many important topics, not just those of race and class but also of abuse of power, manipulation and bullying.”
“I really didn’t get a feel for the story until the last 100 pages and it was then I started to warm to Lucy, but it took a long time to get there.”
A number of reviews from the last two months made me want to read (or reread!) books immediately. Sheree reviewed Solo by Alyssa Brugman after volunteering at a session with her at the Newcastle Writers Festival. Solo is the story of Mackenzie as she navigates her time at a wilderness camp for troubled teens. Sheree was particularly impressed by the characterisation:
“It is a skilfully woven novel, treading the fine line between overplayed sentimentality for the neglected child Mackenzie was, and presenting the consequences of that neglect in a cynical, violent teenager who could easily have alienated readers. Instead Mackenzie is clever, angry, detached, sad, logical yet often irrational, vengeful, in denial, painfully lacking confidence yet supremely able to manipulate circumstances to get what she needs, and unable to trust yet yearning for relationship. She is not a stereotype of a ‘troubled adolescent’, but is a character with depth, firmly anchored in the harsh realities of children growing up without a safe home and loving parent.”
Brona, like many others, has been drawn by the beautiful cover of Diana Sweeney’s The Minnow. She found it a read with flaws, but found herself left feeling kindly towards it.
“If you’re looking for realism, a well-grounded narrative or a practical approach to grief, then this is not the book for you. But if you love being swept away by gorgeous writing, with minimal plot & lots of airy (or in this case, watery) spaces, then you will fall in love The Minnow.”
Some other notable reviews:
- Candace reviewed A Waltz for Matilda by Jackie French and found herself a late-blooming Jackie French fan (welcome to the club!)
- Cassandra reviewed Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil and wishes it had been around when she was in high school
- Cassandra also reviewed The Intern by Gabrielle Tozer, admiring its lighthearted tone
- Nalini reviewed Friday Brown by Vikki Wakefield, finding it a compelling book with fascinating, complex characters
- Louise reviewed The Protected by Claire Zorn and found light and warmth in the telling, despite a difficult subject matter
I highly recommend reading the linked reviews and the fabulous books covered this month! With the CBCA awards approaching, I really hope to see some more fabulous reviews in the coming months.
Despite others hinting that I am supposed to ‘grow up’ at some point, YA novels continue to play a huge part in my reading life. This has served me well, when I became a teacher and was known for always having a book recommendation at hand. I’m currently enjoying the rich world of picture books with my toddler, revisiting some of my favourite authors and sporadically blogging over at Subversive Reader