Posts Tagged ‘Australian novel’

Book Club Pick: September 2017

WordsInDeepBlue

Title: Words in deep blue

Author: Cath Crowley

Series: Stand alone novel

Country: Australia

Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia

First Published: 2016

Pages: 349

Publisher’s Description:

Second-hand bookshops are full of mysteries

This is a love story.

It’s the story of Howling Books, where readers write letters to strangers, to lovers, to poets.

It’s the story of Henry Jones and Rachel Sweetie. They were best friends once, before Rachel moved to the sea.

Now, she’s back, working at the bookstore, grieving for her brother Cal. She’s looking for the future in the books people love, and the words they leave behind.

Sometimes you need the poets

Review:

Eighteen-year-old Rachel Sweetie’s brother Cal tragically drowned in the ocean ten months ago and her life has spiralled out of control. Rachel lost her way and subsequently failed her final year at school, pushed friends and her boyfriend away.

She decides to get her life back on track and returns to Melbourne, after three years to where she grew up, to live with her aunt. Rachel takes a job at her former best friend Henry Jones’ family’s second-hand book store, Howling Books. Her job is to catalogue the bookstore’s Letter Library.

The Letter Library is a collection of books that are not for sale that are kept permanently in the store. Customers can write notes in the margins, underline favourite passages, and leave letters between the pages. The Letter Library was probably my favourite part of the book – do these actually exist?

Poor Henry is having dramas of his own. His on-again-off-again girlfriend Amy has dumped him ahead of a planned round-the-world trip and his mother would like to sell the bookstore, which is his home.

To be honest I didn’t really like the character of Henry. I found him to be a bit self-centered, self-absorbed etc.

My favourite character was George, Henry’s younger sister and I was actually more interested in her budding romance than Henry or Rachel’s.

Similar to Crowley’s novel Graffiti Moon, the narrative is told in first person – alternating between Rachel and Henry. It also includes letters found in the pages of the Letter Library.

Graffiti Moon was my book club pick for January 2015. Click here to read my review.

 

Links:

Cath Crowley Official Website

Cath Crowley on Twitter

Cath Crowley on Facebook

Cath Crowley on Tumblr

 

Source: I was given a free copy of this book at YA Day, Sydney Writers Festival 2017.

P.S. You can read about my experience at YA Day, Sydney Writers Festival 2017 here.

Book Club Pick: July 2017

the-sidekicks

Book Details:

Title: The Sidekicks

Author: Will Kostakis

Series: Stand alone novel

Country: Australia

Publisher: Penguin Random House Australia

First Published: 2016

Pages: 256

Publisher’s Description:

The Swimmer. The Rebel. The Nerd.

All Ryan, Harley and Miles had in common was Isaac. They lived different lives, had different interests and kept different secrets. But they shared the same best friend. They were his sidekicks. And now that Isaac’s gone, what does that make them?

Review:

Sixteen-year-old Isaac Roberts has died unexpectedly. His three Sydney Catholic boys school friends Ryan, Harley and Miles are left behind to process their grief and figure out who they are, and where they fit without Isaac. Together the three boys are not friends, they only shared a best friend.

The novel is written in three sections with Ryan (the Swimmer), Harley (The Rebel), and Miles (The Nerd) each giving their perspective on life with and without Isaac. Kostakis gives each boy a label and then breaks down that label showing that there is much more to them than a label.

Each sections reads like a separate novella but together the three pieces make up a novel about grief and Australian male teenage identity.

sidekicksweb

Seventeen-year-old Ryan Patrick Thomas, the swimmer, is up first. He is an Olympic hopeful and his mother is a teacher at the school. He has a secret boyfriend Todd, who he meet at Model UN. Ryan is conflicted with his sexuality and is struggling to come out.

The next part of the novel is narrated by Scott Harley, a boarder at the school. Harley does not have the best relationship with his parents and is struggling with feelings of abandonment after his mother returns to the States. This may explain his connection to Isaac’s mother, who he helps come to terms with losing her son.

The final part of the novel is told from the perspective of Miles Cooper, who from Ryan’s narrative we learnt shared a dark secret with Isaac. As Miles has written, directed and produced a short film starring Isaac, his narrative is written in film script format.

I saw Will Kostakis, in May at All Day YA at the Sydney Writers’ Festival. Click here to read my recap on the event.

Links:

Will Kostakis Official Website

Will Kostakis on Facebook

Will Kostakis on Twitter

Will Kostakis on Instagram

 

Source: I borrowed this book from my public library.

Book Club Pick: November 2015

Tomorrow When The War Begins

Book Details:

Title: Tomorrow, When the War Began

Author: John Marsden

Series: Tomorrow series (Book #1)

Country: Australia

Publisher: Pan Macmillan Publishers Australia

First Published: 1993

Pages: 286

Publisher’s Description:

The astonishing adventure begins . . .

Seventeen-year-old Ellie Linton wants one final adventure with her friends before the school holidays are over. Packed in Ellie’s parents’ Land-Rover, they drive to a famously beautiful camp in the hills.

Returning to their home town of Wirrawee, the seven teenagers realize that something is seriously wrong. Their world has changed forever.

Would you give up everything? Would you fight? Would you sacrifice life itself?

TOMORROW WHEN THE WAR BEGAN asks the questions you may one day have to answer.

 

Review:

The novel is narrated by seventeen-year-old Ellie Linton as she documents in a journal her experiences during a military invasion and occupation of Australia.

Tomorrow, When the War Began takes place in the fictional small rural Australian town of Wirrawee. Ellie and her high school friends Corrie, Homer, Lee, Kevin, Fiona and Robyn wanting one last adventure set out to go camping in a remote area of the bush dubbed by locals as ‘Hell’.

One night they see a large number of planes flying overhead without lights. Although they discuss this the next morning they think nothing more of it. When they return to Wirrawee they find the town is deserted, as they return to each of their homes they find their parents are missing, power is out, and pets and livestock are dying.

The group soon learns that Australia has been occupied by unidentified foreign military force and their families have been taken prisoner. Marsden deliberately does not identify the country or countries invading Australia nor does the novel cover the war from outside Ellie’s perspective other than what she learns through her friends.

This novel is not about war, it is about how eight* young Australians react to war. *Fellow student Chris joins the seven following the invasion.

Marsden was watching an ANZAC Day parade and observed a large number of teenagers present. He wondered how they would react if they were in the same position as their grandparents. Marsden believed that today’s teenagers would “dig deep and find reserves of initiative, maturity, responsibility and even heroism”. He also wrote Tomorrow, When the War Began as a response to the negative representation of teenagers in the media.

Although the novel does feature violence, it is not graphic in its portrayal of the horrors of war. It focuses more on the characters internal struggles, such as Ellie battling with having to take someone else’s life in order to defend her own. The novel does feature some romance between the teenagers as Ellie develops feelings for Lee, Homer is smitten with Fi, and Corrie and Kevin continue their relationship. Ellie writes the journal as an official record of their experiences, rather than a personal diary, so her personal feelings of romance do seem a little out of place. It would be quite awkward for Lee to read this official record I would imagine.

The novel was released in 1993 and other than that today the characters would have mobile phones and wireless internet connections it has not dated.

In 2010 a film adaptation written and directed by screenwriter Stuart Beattie (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Collateral, Australia) was released. A television adaptation is currently in post production and will screen on ABC3 in Australia in 2016.

Tomorrow When the War Began poster

Links:

John Marsden Official Website

John Marsden on Facebook

 

 

Source: I borrowed a copy of this book from my public library.

 

Book Club Pick: January 2015

Graffiti Moon

Book Details:

Title: Graffiti Moon

Author: Cath Crowley

Series: Stand alone novel

Country: Australia

Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia

First Published: 2010

Pages: 264

Publisher Description:

It’s the end of Year 12. Lucy’s looking for Shadow, the graffiti artist everyone talks about.

His work is all over the city, but he is nowhere.

Ed, the last guy she wants to see at the moment, says he knows where to find him. He takes Lucy on an all-night search to places where Shadow’s thoughts about heartbreak and escape echo around the city walls.

But the one thing Lucy can’t see is the one thing that’s right before her eyes.

 

Review:

The story follows a group of young friends over a 24 hour period in the fantastic art and culture infused city that is Melbourne.

Lucy has just finished Year 12 (final year of high school in Australia) and is about to take her HSE exams. Lucy’s parents are creative artistic types – her mother is writing a novel and her father, who is living in the shed, is a comedian/magician. Lucy also a creative soul spends her night in search of the mysterious anonymous graffiti artist known as Shadow. The last person she wants to be with is Ed. But Ed knows Shadow so she needs his help. The pair have an awkward history; back in Year 10 Ed and Lucy went one date, which ended with Lucy punching him in the nose.

Ed lives with his solo mum. The only paternal figure in Ed’s life was Bert, who employed Ed at his paint shop after Ed dropped out of school. Bert recently passed away following a heart attack and Ed lost his job. Like a lot of young men Ed is currently at the crossroads in his life, not knowing where to go next.

Ed and his best friend Leo are planning to rob the school in order to pay back a debt to the very scary Malcolm Dove. If they fail to do so poor Ed will have his nipple pierced with a compass. Malcolm demonstrates his compass piercing skills on Ed’s ear so he knows Malcolm is serious.

The novel is written in first person narrative alternating chapters between Lucy and Ed. There is also verse poetry interspersed throughout the novel, written by Leo, which provides a third distinct voice for the story.

Crowley often begins the chapter with repeating the last point of action from the previous chapter from the other character’s point of view. She has a great use of imagery and the dialogue, particularly Lucy’s narration is very witty.

The novel obviously deals with issues of youth crime such as vandalism and burglary. Crowley does not glorify or preach about these issues, instead she presents them as they are in a realistic manner. There are mentions of underage drinking and brief sexual references and strong coarse language.

Graffiti Moon would be suitable for junior secondary school (high school) students.

Links:

Cath Crowley Official Website

Cath Crowley on Twitter

Cath Crowley on Facebook

Cath Crowley on Tumblr

Source: I borrowed this book from my public library.