Welcome to the fourth round up of young adult fiction for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge.

Read Up is an initiative of the Stella Prize and the Victorian Government. It’s aimed at young people aged 15-24 who fall outside the education system and aims to promote gender equality and respectful relationships through reading. The reading lists prioritise works by Australian women, particularly those writing from marginalised groups and the focus is on titles that speak to the realities of young people from diverse or disadvantaged backgrounds. Read Up is about engaging, enlightening and empowering young people through fiction.

Without further ado, let’s get stuck in to this month’s reviews of young adult fiction…

Charlie Archbold’s debut novel Mallee Boys was the recipient of the 2016 Adelaide Festival Unpublished Manuscript Award and recently recognised as a notable book by the Children’s Book Council of Australia. Mallee Boys was reviewed by Whispering Gums:

Mallee Boys, then, is an engaging book about growing up, about facing some of the hardest challenges, and most of all about being male. It’s a book that has something to offer both rural and urban young Australians, and I hope it gets widely read.

Elizabeth Jane Corbett’s coming-of-age story, The Tides Between was reviewed by author Kate Murdoch who said the book had “..warm, layered characters that you care about, lyrical and beautiful prose, and a wonderful depth of humanity.”

Fantasy book, Esme’s Wish by Elizabeth Foster straddles both upper primary and young adult audiences with wonderful world building and descriptive prose:

Foster’s writing is beautifully descriptive and flows effortlessly. Esme has a strong personality thriving in seclusion after being shunned by most of the town folk. She soon becomes firm friends with Daniel and Lillian and learns to trust and rely on others. I liked that the three teens could be friends without a love triangle in sight. – The Burgeoning Bookshelf Blogspot

The award-winning, modern Australian classic, Thunderwith by Libby Hathorn was reviewed by The Book Muse and was the first young adult book Ashleigh read twenty years ago. On rereading, Ashleigh says the magic is still there:

It is a story of love – the love for family, mostly. Lara’s love for her mother drives her, and the love she received as a child is so easily shared with her new siblings. Lara’s courage and love shines through, as she adjusts to her new home, new life and new school across several months, and a single school term. It is one I have loved and enjoyed for a long time, and that will always be a favourite.

Ashleigh also reviewed The Book of Answers: The Ateban Cipher Book 2 by A.L.Tait with its strong female characters, and says it is a great read for ages 10+.

Sci-fi novella, Girl Reporter by Tansy Rayner Roberts was recently awarded the Best Science-Fiction Novella Aurealis Award 2018. Nancy says it’s full of snark and satire and a perfect commute read.

April release, I am Sasha by Anita Selzer was also reviewed by Ashleigh.  I am Sasha is based on true events from the author’s family history during the Holocaust –

Never forget are the final two words in the author’s note, and the horrors of the Holocaust, of stories like Sasha’s, Anne Frank and many more are a part of history we should never forget, and never let happen again. We should never forget the millions of people the Nazi’s persecuted based on religion, race, politics, sexuality or anyone who simply tried to resist them, and the brutality that these people faced, and the survival stories as well as the tragic ends. None of this should be forgotten. This is why Sasha’s story is an important one, and why it was important for Anita, his daughter, to tell.

Stories like this remind us of why we must resist regimes and abuse, and why we must speak out and stand up for what we believe in, because otherwise, the people who commit these atrocities and who support them win. I found this story to be powerful and moving, and as such, I read it very quickly. Whilst it is aimed at a Young Adult audience, I feel anyone interested will be able to read this and understand it.

Author, Rebecca Langham reviewed Alicia Tuckerman’s debut novel, If I Tell You:

It’s a well-executed coming out story with some gorgeous moments of acceptance, realisation, and honesty both with one’s self and with others. I feel like Willow when she watches Moulin Rouge, I just needed to stop a few chapters before the end and it would have been marvellous.

I reviewed a couple of books this month: P is for Pearl by Eliza Henry-Jones which explores themes of grief, friendship, and mental health and illness. Interestingly, the story was first written by Henry-Jones in her teens. Also, Julia Lawrinson’s book, Losing It which was a sometimes funny, and sensitively written story about finding yourself and losing your virginity. Overall, it was a heartwarming YA read about friendship and relationships.

Mrs B’s Book Reviews reviewed Lisa Walker’s Paris Syndrome which was released in March by Harper Collins and had this to say:

For a young adult book Paris Syndrome covers a number of moving themes. Walker highlights the difficulties of moving into adulthood, dealing with a change in location, friendship, sex and love preferences, health crisis, all within the one involving novel. Most of all, I think Walker does a very good job of capturing the innermost feelings and reservations of young woman, with a convincing tone.

Whether you are a young adult reader or an adult reader, I am confident Paris Syndrome will be sure to suit your tastes. It is easy, light hearted and enjoyable, but also confronting at times. For lovers of all things French related, Paris Syndrome offers one delectable slice of Paris!

My own debut book, Jenna’s Truth was recently released as a second edition by boutique publisher, Serenity Press and was reviewed twice this month. Elizabeth Foster said:

The serious problems of cyber bullying in Australia and elsewhere makes the issues examined in Jenna’s Truth both real and relevant. After a powerful prologue the author paints Jenna’s world in quick strokes. I found Jenna to be both authentic and relatable and just like any other teen who longs to be in the cool group.

Veronica said:

N.L. King writes a confronting and timely story of cyber bullying and its ramifications…I would love to see this book on every Year 8, Year 9 & Year 10 (Australian school years for ages 14 to 16 years) curriculum.

I think you’ll agree this month’s round up has been one of varied reads touching many different topics and genres. Don’t forget we’d love to see your reviews included in the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge. For more information about the challenge check out http://australianwomenwriters.com.

A little about me…

I’m a young adult author and short story writer based in Western Australia. You can find out more about me and my writing on my website.