A new and challenging job has kept me from even reading, let alone reviewing but now starting to catch up a little – public transport does have advantages!
The Whole of My World – Nicole Hayes
Woolshed Press, an Imprint of Random House Australia
1 June 2013-08-18
In a highly commended debut novel Nicole Hayes has taken her own personal teenage obsession with footy (AFL) and woven a strong resonating story of Shelley, a Melbourne girl who is struggling to come to terms with the changes in her life.
Aside from the typical complications faced by teenage girls coming to grips with their identity and place in an adult world, Shelley has the additional burden of dealing with a poignant grief having lost her mother and her twin brother in a car accident. The year that has passed since the tragedy has driven both Shelley and her father into a grim place of hollowness – behaving almost as if the two lost ones never existed.
Unable to cope with her old school and her perceptions that everyone now sees her as incomplete, Shelley starts a new school where she is confronted by an unfriendly bunch of cliquey girls who seem to be determined to ostracise from the very start. Her one salvation is discovering Tara, who is even more a footy tragic than herself. Through Tara, she is drawn into a crowd of team worshippers and becomes embroiled on a personal level with her heroes of the local footy team, in particular, the new star player on the team, her idol, Mick.
As Shelley becomes more and more involved in the culture of the club, Hayes is able to explore the dichotomy between males and females, boys and girls, within the constraints of society and expectations. Far from finding her place within the team circle as she had thought she would, Shelley is faced with more and more difficult reflections, secrets and questions as she fights to find her own true sense of belonging.
This is a challenging novel in some ways, and does contain some adult themes and strong language but recommended for young adult readers 14+