A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley & The Lucky Ones by Tohby Riddle

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I am not doing well at this blogging-twice-a-week goal. This is mainly because I start writing something and then I get distracted thinking about how absurd human existence is and vow to become a terrific anarchist and philosopher and change the world, and then I realise that I am actually seventeen and none of my thoughts are particularly revolutionary and that I love law and order, and also Law and Order: SVU. I have, however, been managing to fit in some reading. These are their stories.

A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley
Charlie Duskin is running. Fleeing from failures and memories of friends who have given up on her. And she’s not only running, she’s chasing things – like a father who will talk to her, friends who don’t think she’s invisible.

But Charlie Duskin is about to have the best summer of her life. She’s about to meet a friend who’ll change her forever. She’s about to fall in love. She just doesn’t know it yet.

Since reading Graffiti Moon (which is glorious and my review is here), Cath Crowley has basically been my personal hero. While I didn't quite adore A Little Wanting Song as much as Graffiti Moon, it was still beautifully written and filled with lovely, lovely characters. I could imagine the small town as being similar to the one in A Straight Line To My Heart, and it felt distinctly Australian.

I did find the alternating voices difficult to distinguish at times (Rosie and Charlie - I liked Charlie a lot more than I liked Rosie, she was sweet and tender and wonderful and I just wanted things to work out for her). I could imagine Luke more clearly than anyone else (I perhaps know an excess of dodgy bogan kids). If by some strange magical curse I had to live in the fictional world imagined by one contemporary Australian YA novelist, it would probably be between Melina Marchetta, Simmone Howell or Cath Crowley. (It could happen! I need to be prepared for all eventualities.)

*(Published as Chasing Charlie Duskin in Australia. I read the US version.)

The Lucky Ones by Tohby Riddle
Set in 1980s inner-city Sydney, The Lucky Ones follows maverick teen Tom as he tries to find his way in the world after school. The novel reveals in poignant and hilarious ways the workings of a young male mind – with all its misplaced romanticism, youthful delusions, bewilderment about girls and need for adventure.

But at the heart of the novel is Tom's close friendship with fellow school leaver Cain, a compelling enigma who becomes increasingly unpredictable as he follows his impulses down a path towards self destruction.

This was published in 2009, and I wanted to read it then because I loved the coaster-as-the-moon and vertical-title cover, but never quite got around it. (I was busy in 2009.) I picked it up recently because it centres around a character who has recently finished school, and hey! so has Steph Bowe! But I am not a teenage boy living in 1980s inner-city Sydney. Unfortunately. (I didn't know it was set in the 80s when I read it. I thought they were just being cool with the cassette players.)

The blurb above (from the author's website) is a lot different to the one on the back cover of the book (which implies a lot more action than it delivers) - just a few sentences, so I started reading knowing basically nothing. It's very atmospheric, slowly paced, and though things happen they are not dealt with in the typical dramatic manner of YA novels - Tom is an interesting narrator, and I enjoyed the writing style, but it's all very subdued and reflective. I'm surprised this hasn't been labelled as young-adult/adult crossover or straight-up literary fiction. Lots of lovely moments (I loved the mixtapes and his friendship with Cain) and ponderings. I think it reflects the weird space between finishing school and the rest of life wonderfully.
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