An intergenerational Australian comedy.
Alana Oakley starts Year Eight with a crush on the new boy, Flynn—and so do her friends, setting up comedic tension. In a parallel storyline, readers meet Alana’s freelance-journalist mother, Emma, a Filipina immigrant and grieving widow who self-medicates with painkillers with the help of her irresponsible friends. After Emma is caught in a nonsensical, televised high-speed police chase—much to Alana’s embarrassment—she is sentenced to community service at the Police Boys’ Club, rehabilitating at-risk youth called “Second-Chancers.” A chapter titled “Lost in Translation” pretty much sums up the rest of this confusing read as the author weaves in and out of POV between Alana and her mother, following Alana’s misadventures and her mother’s erratic behavior, fueled by an obvious addiction to painkillers. Meanwhile, Alana’s crush on Flynn loses its allure as she becomes convinced he’s a phony and begins to stalk him (absurdly wearing a sombrero as a disguise at one point). Unfortunately, instances of body-shaming and the use of cultural stereotypes for comic relief further mar this title. Inkwell’s cast is a diverse one; in addition to biracial Alana (her father was white) and her mother, one of Alana’s friends is Bruneian, and her “Auntie” Ling Ling is Singaporean Chinese.
Confusing and not nearly as funny as it wants to be. (Fiction. 10-14)