A trio of characters give their perspectives in this emotionally gripping Australian import.
Luke has been in love with Casey since forever and longs to protect her from her overbearing and chilly father. Their friend Bongo’s abusive home life worries them both, though it is Casey, a kindred spirit in understanding how paralyzing a lack of autonomy can be, who’s better able to identify with him. Each takes a turn narrating, describing some of the same events cast in different lights and extending them to tell their own stories more fully. This alternation works well in terms of providing a window into each of their experiences, though the style changes little from character to character. The simple free verse in which the novel is written bridges the gaps among the three most of the time, but there are instances where it doesn’t ring true—such as when teenage boy Luke thinks to himself that a dress Casey wears, “shimmers like the Emerald City.” Complex issues, including drug addiction, homelessness, unplanned pregnancy and first experiences with sex, are presented with nuance and sensitivity, and if the conclusion is happier for all concerned than might be common, readers will be cheered by it nonetheless.
A smart and hopeful debut novel about the necessity of finding one’s own way. (Fiction/verse. 14 & up)