Take Three Girls by Cath Crowley, Simmone Howell and Fiona Wood

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

To say I was looking forward to Take Three Girls would be the understatement of the year. When I found out it was being written I was at first unsure if this was real life or some sort of coma dream. Three of my favourite authors collaborating on a novel does seem very much like something my brain would invent. But luckily for me (and you!), Take Three Girls is a real (and wonderful) novel. (Either that or I'm still in the coma dream.)

Take Three Girls focuses on Ady, Clem and Kate, boarders at a prestigious private girls' school who are thrown together by a school 'wellness' program and who are dealing with a whole slew of issues - including being targeted by a sexist and disgusting website.

I found the novel a little jarring at first - it took me a while to get a sense for each of the girls' voices, and the multiple viewpoints, plus diary entries, plus wellness program sheets, plus excerpts from PSST (the website) made for a beginning that was very busy.

I'm mentioning this because if you pick up this book and struggle through the start - keep reading! Though I read the start slowly, once I was familiar with the characters (and once they had met each other), I found it much more involving and I read the rest in one sitting. The format that had seemed excessive at the start gave the novel depth and realism, and made for a more immersive experience. The character voices are distinct, but work together really well. I would love for these three authors to collaborate again. 

My personal theories, on which author wrote which character are as follows (and completely unconfirmed!): Clem definitely feels like a Simmone Howell character - she writes complex, sometimes-unlikeable girls like no one else. Kate's romance storyline and love interest - I will not give anything away! - felt very much in the style of Cath Crowley and had echoes of Words In Deep Blue. Ady's thoughts on and passion for social justice issues reminded me of the protagonist in Fiona Wood's Cloudwish. Note that it is entirely possible that I am zero for three here, but it's fun to speculate. (Other readers I have discussed this with have had very different interpretations!)

Take Three Girls is a novel I would recommend to any fan of contemporary YA novels - teenagers and adults alike. I think there can sometimes be a tendency for YA now to be aware of the size of its adult audience and (consciously or not) cater to that audience, and though Take Three Girls is a complex and thoughtful novel that engages with themes around feminism and social justice, it is still unashamedly about and for teenage girls.

While each character has a romantic plotline (and I really appreciated Ady's romance storyline and how her bisexuality was depicted in the book), themes of friendship are definitely the focus. It is both very thought-provoking and very accessible - the issues (and they are many!) are never at the expense of the enjoyability of the novel. It's engaging and sincere and uplifting and a novel I hope many, many teenagers read.

Take Three Girls on the publisher's website.
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