I have read 3 outstanding Australian YA novels and thought I’d share my thoughts on each.
First I read “Beautiful Mess” by Claire Christian. I’ve spoken about Claire in the blog post The YA Masterclass, where she closed the event. When Claire spoke about her book, I knew immediately I needed a copy. It killed me that at the time it still had two months to the release date.
The story shares point of view between Ava and Gideon. We meet Ava after the death of her best friend Kellie from suicide. And we meet Gideon while he is still battling with his own depression. The pair meet while working at ‘Magic Kebab’ and start an unlikely friendship. This book shares similar themes to my WIP which drew me to. The way Claire Christian handles such strong and tragic themes capture me.
I loved the use of writing letters for the two to communicate their feelings. As individuals they have so much going on and find it hard to talk to each other about it. The letters made me actually hug the book. There were moments in the book that made me chuckle, but more often than not there were moments that made me tear up. This was a pain when reading on public transport. I just wanted to cry without everyone staring at me, ok?
My only problem with the book was it had a little White Room Syndrome. Sometimes chapters begin with no setting and only an internal monologue. It was great descriptions of their feelings, however I did feel like I was hanging out in the void. If they had been journaling at those points it may have made these parts easier to read. Overall this is a very minor issue with the book.
This book topped my expectations. For a debut author, Claire Christian has done a phenomenal job. No wonder she won the 2016 Text Prize. I read on her Instagram she is writing something new. I hope this to be true, as I want to read more of her work.
Second book I read was “Take Three Girls” by 3 award-winning Australian authors; Cath Crowley, Simmone Howell and Fiona Wood. Each author write the point of view of a different girl. We are first introduced to Clem, written by Simmone Howell. I read the first page and couldn’t put my finger on why it sounded so familiar. I knew I hadn’t read the book before, so I googled the authors. Turns out I’d met Simmone Howell last year. It was at The YA Masterclass where I heard Claire Christian speak. Simmone held a workshop and answered my questions on developing my side characters. What are the odds.
Clem is a former swim star, too embarrassed to get back in the water after time off from an accident. She has now moved her obsession from swimming to a boy named Stu. Kate, written by Cath Crowley, was my favourite character. She reminded me of my friends at school. She’s a brainiac maintain a scholarship that pays for her private school education. That is until her music begins to take over her every thought. Fiona Wood writes Ady. Ady is a very unique character. She is from the A-List clique that looks down their noses at everyone else. Ady voice is very airy and mystical, and you learn there is more than what’s on the surface.
Kate, Ady and Clem participate in forced-friend-dates when grouped together in Wellness classes. The school brings in Wellness classes after internet nastiness starts targeting the students. Someone started a site called PSST. The site complies fat-shaming, slut-shaming and other sorts of bullying. Each girl is written about, and it gets to the point where they are ready to take the creators down.
It was a captivating read and the character development was off the charts. The girls grow from beginning to end of the novel. My only complaint was that I needed more of the formal. I’m a sucker for some high school romance, and I felt a little gipped.
There is so much to take in with this book. Switching POVs, the Wellness class sheets and the journaling pages. So many altering styles and themes throughout. Thoroughly recommend, do yourself a favour and get yourself a copy.
Last book was “My Life As A HashTag” by Gabrielle Williams. Oh man, this book. What a rollercoaster. Honestly, I spent the first two-thirds hating it. We follow MC as she retells us the events that transpire after a party. The party is held by Jed, a boy MC has a major crush on. He friend Anouk also likes Jed and has put dibs on him. Things happen and MC and Jed hook up anyway, and Anouk blocks MC on social media. This is how the book starts, and it seemed MC never talked about anything else. Ok, there’s stuff going on with her Dad. Her parents divorced, and I did enjoy the awkwardness of re-getting-to-know her Dad. But I had a real problem with MC not getting past the inciting incident. Whinge after whinge.
Then the last third happen. Oh my good gracious. Talk About Repercussions. The ending is mega intense. I was so fearful for the characters mental health and didn’t want anyone to hurt themselves. I realised why I was hating the book. Gabrielle Williams constructed a book, showing every negative trait in my own personality. It reminded me of being back in high school. All the hurtful words thrown back and forth. Thank God there was no social media when I was back in school. I just had to block certain people on MSN Messenger.
Young people, especially young girls, should read this book to think over past indiscretions. Things you might have done that weren’t cool, because they did hurt someone’s feelings. I’ll be rereading to remind myself how to be a good person.
Each book will keep a special space on my bookshelf for when I need to revisit these special characters. A big thank you to the authors for crafting the tales.
As always there is a link to the related YouTube video here.
What’s on your shelf? Have you finished a book that left an impact on you? Leave a comment below with any recommendations.