Tag Archives: Teen Romance

Outback Wonder – Juliet M. Sampson

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Brolga Publishing

2017

ISBN: 9781925367935

RRP $19.99

Many of you will be familiar with Juliet’s recent picture book, Grace’s Mystery Seed, which has been widely praised and garnered considerable accolades – and rightly so.

However you may not be so well acquainted with her earlier novels which have also been positively received. Outback Wonder is Juliet’s third novel and eminently suitable for your readers who are embarking on their exploration of YA fiction – particularly if they prefer a novel without the overt or possibly contentious aspects of some.

Hannah is approaching her final year at school but is weighed down by the emotional upset caused by her parents’ separation. She is so depressed by this she feels she cannot even confide in her friends.  Her father who had been unable to find work for some time, causing much of the reason behind the marriage breakdown, has finally found a job he loves – out in the Flinders Ranges. The outback is so foreign a concept to Hannah that she cannot comprehend why anyone would want to go there and when her dad sends an email inviting her to visit during the holidays, she is beset with conflicting feelings. Though she misses her father terribly she has less than zero desire to visit the remote location and can only think of flies, snakes and endless desert landscapes – not to mention no friends, holiday outings, shops and cinemas.

Yet, when she arrives it doesn’t take long for her to become swept up in the unusual surroundings, the quirky characters and the unexpected delights which include opals and a certain good-looking young pilot named Sam. Along the way there is a wealth of description and vicarious observation of this stunning part of Australia.

During her stay Hannah is able to come to terms to some extent with the dilemma she has faced and with Sam’s help begins to reconcile her resentment of her personal situation, and accompanying turmoil, with the reality that her parents have parted for their own reasons.

For your girls aged from around 13 upwards who are looking for a novel that combines adventure, travel and romance this is a perfect choice. I can say only one particular point jarred with me which was within a reference to a photograph with koalas and the mention that Hannah was holding ‘the bear’ – oops!

Apart from that blip this would be a welcome addition to your shelves and a glimpse into a landscape that most likely will be unfamiliar to your readers but with a character with whom they can completely empathise.

You may also enjoy this blog post in conversation with Juliet.

Just Breathe – Andrew Daddo

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Penguin Australia

9780143573623

July 30, 2018

RRP: $17.99

It must be hard to be so multi-talented *wry face*.  Andrew Daddo has certainly proven his ability as not only a media figure but a very able and engaging writer.

I’ve not been enthralled in recent times by a lot of the YA coming my way – it’s been too much ‘same oh’ for my taste but this is fresh and sparky and real in a way that will grab readers from the very start.

Emily needs to leave her country town for a while. She has a mysterious growth near her brain which requires specialist attention in Melbourne. She and her mum put on a positive and brave face as they leave home, Dad and Siss to go stay with Aunty Astrid. Emily is not only nervous about her condition but also the prospect of a new school, no friends and the unknown in general.

Hendrix is a very recognisable character. He is a boy whose father drives his own failed athletic ambitions and his hidden guilt through his son, pushing him harder and harder to achieve an Olympic dream with his running.

These two could not be very much different and yet in many ways are similar. Both face difficult challenges, both feel isolated from the normal teenage social existence and both are essentially lonely.

When they meet in the park – Hendrix running and Emily walking her new puppy – it is not a situation that seems likely to fire a romance. Yet both find themselves continually thinking about the other. Their romance develops in spite of their respective difficulties. Daddo has beautifully created the respective parents alongside the young people’s story. Emily’s mum, loving and supportive, understanding and compassionate, firm but realistic and Hendrix’ father, immovable, almost unbelievably strict and controlling, and it would seem without a shred of real paternal care and concern.

As the narrative develops and reaches its denouement the characters become fully rounded and grow to the point where the reader is totally embroiled in their lives.

I highly recommend this for both boys and girls from around 13 years upwards. There is some sexual activity and some ‘bad’ language which some find disturbing so err on the side of caution if this would not fit your collection’s ethos. However that being said it is absolutely believable and realistic and many teens would relate to its themes.

I am Out with Lanterns – Emily Gale

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Penguin Random House

9780143782766

July 30, 2018

Random House Australia Children’s

RRP $17.99

One of us is in the dark. 
One of us is a bully.
One of us wants to be understood.
One of us loves a girl who loves another.
One of us remembers the past as if it just happened.
One of us believes they’ve drawn the future.
But we’re all on the same map, looking for the same thing.

If you love The Other Side of Summer with its beautifully drawn characters and superb writing you will be thrilled with a continuation which now turns its focus to Wren, the older sister.

Wren is an outsider she feels and gravitates towards other loners. As that turns out one of these is a strange girl, oddly familiar to some, newly arrived in town. Adie, it seems, has been dragged from pillar to post by a drunken artist father with his endless parade of nasty girlfriends since Adie’s mother left when she was little. While Wren seems fascinated by Adie, her neighbour Milo burns with unrequited feelings for Wren despite his lack of confidence, largely due to his autism.

In this mix are also Hari, Juliet and Ben each with their own story and their own sense of exclusion for various reasons. Year 10 is off to a disturbing start with upheavals galore for all these troubled teens. But the forging of friendships can be a great leveller as well as an equaliser for those who suffer through their individual crises.

I freely admit to a binge read of this one – it was too good to put down!

Emily Gale’s ability to create such believable and intriguing characters that make you sad to leave them is astonishing.  Each chapter takes the reader into an individual character’s narration giving some beautiful insight into each.

While you certainly could read this as a stand-alone it would be helpful to know the back story from the previous book. Reconnect with this amazing cast of characters and meet some new ones – you won’t regret it.

Highly recommended for readers from around 14/15 upwards.

 

Pretty Girls Don’t Eat – Winnie Salamon

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Ford St Publishing

Jul 2017

9781925272772

AUD$17.95, NZD$22.99

 

“Body image is one of the top concerns for young people in Australia right now,” Dr Vivienne Lewis, associate professor and clinical psychologist at the University of Canberra told The Huffington Post Australia. November 2016

 

Eating disorders are estimated to affect approximately 9% of the Australian population.

http://www.nedc.com.au/eating-disorders-in-australia

Eating disorders are common in young people, especially in female adolescents and young women, although males can also be affected (1). In their lifetime, about 0.3% of adolescents aged 13 to 18 years have anorexia nervosa (same % for males and females), 0.9% have bulimia nervosa (males 0.5%; females 0.9%), and 1.6% have a binge-eating disorder (males 0.8%; females 2.3%) (2).

https://headspace.org.au/health-professionals/understanding-eating-disorders-for-health-professionals/

With statistics like the above Pretty Girls Don’t Eat is a very timely book which will empower young people to approach their own body image more positively and illustrates the potential dangers of eating disorders.

That being said it is in no way ‘preachy’. Winnie Salamon has written a beautiful warm and engaging narrative that will have a great appeal because of its inherent readability.

Sixteen year old Winter is a highly talented fashion designer and sewer. She is also very smart and very funny. She is also deeply disturbed by her size. Living in a dysfunctional family with a mother obsessed with her own body it is no wonder that Winter has taken on board the feeling of guilt and shame she carries around. While her two best friends – slender and stunning Eurasian Melody and geeky and gay George – both fervently assure her she is gorgeous and support her in all she does, when Winter meets Oliver she is convinced she needs to be thinner to hold his interest. And so begins a real rollercoaster of terrible weight loss ultimately fuelled by laxatives.  Winter is adamant that she needs to be skinny to achieve her dream of working in the fashion industry and to be attractive and risks everything to be so. Fortunately, her new job with a beautiful and fat – yes, fat – independent designer goes a long way to help her begin to question her own weight loss methods. But it is not until the laxative abuse lands her in hospital and she begins to work with Rosie, a sympathetic counsellor that she really starts to heal.

Fifteen years ago I too lost a lot of weight – though not by Winter’s drastic methods – and it is exhilarating to feel that you are no longer the fattest person in the room. Yet no matter that I had lost around 25 kgs all up I still saw a fat person when I looked in the mirror so I can totally relate to Winter’s mindset.  These days I really don’t care but then I don’t have the pressures by which Winter and other young girls, particularly, are continually bombarded. We have a long way to go in this journey to convince our young people to embrace themselves for who they are and not what they look like but there are moves to do so. The link here will demonstrate an initiative that is just one way in this serious issue is being addressed. Other programs such as that supported through KidsMatter are also in place.

Well written narratives such as this one should be heavily promoted in our school libraries so that we can create positive and helpful discussions around this issue.

I highly recommend this to you for your libraries and will definitely be promoting it to my readers.

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Tell it to the Moon- Siobhan Curham

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9781406366150

Walker Books

ISBN: 9781406366150

1 Aug 2017

RRP $16.99

 

Readers of The Moonlight Dreamers will be delighted to receive this second book in the series – I know I was!

 

The four girls who formed the Moonlight Dreamers club because none of them felt like they fitted in anywhere else are back and we follow their progress through another year of their teens as they continue to face challenges and support each other.

 

Amber who lives with her two dads, dresses in vintage men’s clothes and is the Oscar Wilde devotee, is troubled by her feelings of lack of self-awareness. She founded the club because she felt so alone in her ‘unique-ness’ and the bullying from the OMG girls at school. The fellow dreamers helped her to realise that she’s not entirely alone but her writer’s block and the rejection from her surrogate birth mother have plummeted her into an identity crisis.

 

Sky’s dad needs to earn more money from his yoga teaching and can no longer afford to home school his daughter, so she is going to secondary school for the first time ever. The regimentation, the pressure, the bullying and the overload of pointless homework weighs down on her. It’s only through her poetry and meeting fellow poet Leon that she begins to see a way to ‘be free’ and help other students.

 

Rose has spent a week in New York with her famous father and his surfer-chick new girlfriend which wasn’t quite as bad as it could have been but created ructions back home with her super-model mother when she came out to them first. She’s been holding back on revealing her sexuality but now comes to terms with it especially when her mother starts to realise how much she has neglected her daughter in favour of her diminishing career. Her dreams of becoming the best patissier in the world are beginning to take shape but her crush on her boss is completely taking over.

 

Maali, the sweetest and kindest girl, faces a crisis of faith in her beloved Lakshimi and her Hindi belief when her father becomes seriously ill and the family is plunged into turmoil.

 

This, like the first, is beautifully written and the issues of sexuality, bullying, racism, trust and anxiety are handled sensitively and without coming across as heavy-handed.

 

The girls’ example of creating their own version of the ‘circle of women’ is one that many teens could well take on as inspiration as they embrace each other’s problems and give each other the loving support each needs.

 

Depending on the ethos of your library due to the issues and a little bit of swearing this would be a superb addition to your collection.

 

Highly recommended for girls from around 13 upwards.

Girl vs. Boy Band: The Right Track – Harmony Jones

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Bloomsbury Publishing Australia

Published: 01-07-2016

ISBN: 9781408868546

Imprint: Bloomsbury Childrens

RRP: $14.99

If you have girls who are pop fans and are looking for a little innocent romance along with an engaging story, this will be a very popular addition to your collection.

It’s light and frothy and a bit bubble-gummy but perfect for tweens who are looking for something between Enid Blyton and The Hunger Games.

Lark is a painfully shy but quite talented musician/songwriter who is feeling pretty aggrieved that her mother and father have split up. Her father a Nashville sessions musician has stayed in Tennessee while Lark and her mother, a budding music manager intent on building a successful business, have relocated to L.A. Needless to say this causes some friction between mother and daughter but even moreso when Donna imports a boy band from the UK with big plans for their promotion. The very last thing that Lark wants is Abbey Road living in her house; she’s already struggling with emotions and having to share her mother’s time but to do so with three cheeky English teenage boys is really the last straw.  Add to this mix Lark’s growing interest in a schoolmate with equal talent and his persuasive argument for her to join him in the school talent quest and you have all the makings for a great read for girls in Upper Primary.

Aside from the fluffiness, Lark’s growth as a more confident and assured young woman is a valuable model for other girls.

This is the first in a planned series and I can well imagine it will be a highly sought after title once the word spreads.

Recommended for girls from around 10-13 who are beginning to flex their own teenage wings.