Published by Penguin Australia on February 1st 2016
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson
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If fourteen-year-old Kirra is having a mid-life crisis now, then it doesn't bode well for her life expectancy. Her so-called friends bully her, whatever semblance of a mother she had has been drowned at the bottom of a gin bottle ever since her dad left them for another woman, and now a teenage ghost is speaking to her through a broken phone booth. Kirra and the ghost make a pact. She'll prove who murdered him almost twenty years ago if he does three things for her. He makes her popular, he gets her parents back together, and he doesn't haunt her. Things aren't so simple however, and Kirra realises that people can be haunted in more ways than one.
Today Jenna and I join forces to review some Aussie YA reads! I hope you enjoy our double review feature.
Books about teenagers getting bullied and having a difficult life are usually depressing, melodramatic and really bring you down. Yellow differs in showcasing the beautiful moments in life, even though you may be from a low income family.
This makes me think how misunderstood these teenagers are. Even though Kirra lives in a Housing Commission, comes from a low income family, has an alcoholic mother and suffers from bullying, there are moments of joy in her life, through the friendships she develops with Noah and Willow, the encouragement from the ghost Boogie, and the gentle guidance of her teacher where she learns to work to her true potential.
While Kirra is misunderstood, bullied and has low self esteem, she’s also intelligent, hopeful and interesting. She does make flawed decisions that aren’t always right, but through these experiences, she learns which is the most important thing. She learns to trust in herself and to build a better life for herself.
There’s nothing more real than the things that can haunt you. And there’s nothing more powerful than deciding not to be afraid.
The magical realism in the story gives it a paranormal undertone, where Boogie talks to Kirra through a beachside telephone. It’s slightly creepy, as he laments about his loneliness and persuades Kirra to find his killer. But Boogie also gives her a direction and a means to change her life, which was the push she needed.
Kirra’s relationship with her parents was heart breaking, but I’m glad they were represented as a big part of her life as opposed to being absent. Her alcoholic mother made me really angry, as she kept on missing out things that were important to Kirra and hit the bottle everyday instead of being a parent. Her father was just as horrible but in a different way, as a surfer on the dole who just wants to have fun with no responsibilities. Both of these representations demonstrate parents who are not coping well with the consequences of their decisions, which is sad but realistic. I raised an eyebrow at the extreme measures that Kirra took to curb her mum’s alcoholism though, which were overly dramatic and unrealistic.
Only stupid people aren’t scared when they face something dangerous. Courage, real courage, comes from being afraid and doing it anyway.
She doesn’t have an easier time at school either, as she’s bullied by the popular mean girl Cassie and the rest of the student cohort. It was interesting seeing everyone else follow in Cassie’s footsteps, simply because of her rung on the school’s social ladder. I’m glad that Kirra did have that one person who does stick up for her, Willow, who is an outcast and has nothing to lose by standing up to Cassie. The girls build a tentative friendship of mutual respect and understanding which was another bright spot in her life.
There’s a touch of romance and I’m glad it didn’t take over the story as an excuse to “save” Kirra from her situation. Noah is a popular guy, but he’s also misunderstood. It shows how little we know about how people really feel outside of their stereotypes, which gave the characters some depth. It was nice to have his kindness in Kirra’s life, giving her positive reaffirmation for her decisions.
I also loved the cosy setting in an Australian beachside town, with surfing, sand dunes and teenagers who save up to wear Roxy and Billabong.
Who knew that there could be a certain elegance in the difficulties of a low income family in a cosy, Australian beachside town? Yellow pulls it off beautifully, giving Kirra a way out of her circumstances. While the story became a bit unrealistic at times, it was an empowering novel about standing up to people, taking risks, and breaking out of your circumstances.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Thanks to Penguin Random House for sending me this book for review!
Frankie by Shivaun Plozza
Published by Penguin Australia on March 23rd 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson
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Frankie Vega is angry. Just ask the guy whose nose she broke. Or the cop investigating the burglary she witnessed, or her cheating ex-boyfriend or her aunt who's tired of giving second chances...
When a kid shows up claiming to be Frankie's half brother, it opens the door to a past she doesn't want to remember. And when that kid goes missing, the only person willing to help is a boy with stupidly blue eyes … and secrets of his own.
Frankie's search for the truth might change her life. Or cost her everything.
Frankie is a book that will make you laugh and cry. It’s a novel that’s for the kids out there who might be dealing with tough circumstances in their personal lives, and having trouble at school and with the law. The book is full of heartwarming and devastating moments that will tug at your heartstrings.
Frankie had a very addictive story and I read it quickly in two sittings because I couldn’t put it down. It had a very intriguing mystery that I just wanted to unravel, while getting to know Frankie along the way. I felt very invested in everything that was happening and I couldn’t wait to discover more of Frankie’s story with every page. The book wasted no time in getting started. From the very first chapter, we’re thrown into the chaos that is Frankie’s life. She’s found out that she has a half-brother, Xavier, and against the advice of her aunt and guardian she decides to meet up with him. Frankie develops a soft spot for Xavier and when he mysteriously disappears, she makes it her mission to find him. However, that’s not all that Frankie has to deal with. She’s suspended from school for hitting a boy with a hardcover edition of Macbeth, and she’s trying hard to not further disappoint her aunt. The problem with that is… the only person who’s willing to help her find her brother is a troubled boy with a history of thieving, which gets Frankie into a whole lot more trouble.
I thought the plot was extremely well-balanced. Even though Frankie has a lot of problems that she’s currently dealing with, I didn’t feel like it was too much. It never felt like her life was a tragic mess and there also wasn’t an over-emphasis on any one problem in her life. Everything was dealt with very nicely in a balanced manner. I loved and appreciated how the author tried to normalise the things that were going on in Frankie’s life. There are lots of disadvantaged kids and they’re no different from other kids. They’re still intelligent and caring, and if they go missing, somebody should care too.
My little brother, the kick-arse graf artist. Warmth shoots through my body. Either I need to pee or… oh my god, is this what pride feels like?
I absolutely loved the characters in this book. Frankie is an angry person because of her past and her circumstances, but she doesn’t have an angst, woe-is-me attitude. She’s feisty and independent, but not the point of being frustrating and annoying. I really connected with her character, despite not having much in common with her and not being able to fully relate to her circumstances. She was a very well-developed character, and I enjoyed all of her flaws. I liked that she understood her own flaws and tried to do what she thought was right for herself. I just really loved her character and how was not only sassy and badass, but also incredibly funny.
I also really loved Xavier. I related to his need to be loved and all of his innocence. I wish we had gotten to see a little bit more of him in the book because he was one of my favourite characters in Frankie. I also enjoyed Nate’s character as well and that he was more than just another contemporary love interest. I loved the flaws that we saw in every character and that even though they may be misguided, they share the same feelings and aspirations as regular teens who haven’t grown up in a troubled environment. I thought Shivaun Plozza did a wonderful job of representing these misguided teens and the diversity that she packed into this book was wonderful.
I really appreciated that the romance didn’t overshadow the messages in the book and didn’t have a large effect on Frankie’s character development. It was just there and it was pleasant to read about, but we still got to see Frankie overcome her problems and figure out who she wants to be, without being influenced by Nate and the romance between them.
I thought Frankie was absolutely wonderful. It’s one of my favourite Aussie YA releases so far this year. I thought it had fantastic characters who you can’t help but fall in love with and care out, and also a really interesting plot that will have you hooked.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Thanks to Penguin Random House for sending me this book for review!
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amazing post dear thanks for sharing…..
You're doing great job.
[…] 4 stars – Review & Author interview to come! Yellow by Megan Jacobson – 3.5 stars (Review) The Stars at Oktober Bend by Glenda Millard – 3 stars (Review) You’re the Kind of […]
Frankie it is! (also coz that my real name so it's super awesome that the book is worth 5 stars!
My recent post #FBF: The Kingdom + The Prophet by @AmandaStevensTX #creeptastic #UrbanFantasy @MIRAEditors
Ohhhhh I always wondered Braine! It's always exciting when that happens hehe 😀
[…] Frankie – Shivaun […]
I'm glad you enjoyed Frankie! I know I was interested in it, but wasn't sure about picking it up, but I might now! Thanks for the review, Jenna!
And Jeann, Yellow sounds like a really sweet coming-of-age novel 🙂
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I know, I'm looking forward to reading it because Jenna loved it so much too!
That cover of Yellow is gorgeous! I can stare at it all day! This book looks exciting. I hope it becomes available here in my country 🙂
I know, it's so gorgeous and unique! It's available on The book depository if you're keen 🙂
Okay first of all – did those covers plan something, because the art on them complement each other so well and are stunning! And while Yellow does sound like a novel that could leave a mark, I think I would be most bothered at how unrealistic it can be at times. Frankie, however, sounds reallyyyy up my alley. Troubled teens basically define my life, and it sounds like the author did a GREAT job in expressing how even with all those problems dominating one's life, very normal things also happen. (I can also relate a lot) The plot seems particularly interesting, and the side romance that doesn't dominate the story is also a plus.
Great review, guys! (And I LOVE HOW I CAN DIFFERENTIATE YOUR VOICES. 😀 Stop being so amazing.)
Okay actually *never stop being so amazing because I love it
I know right! All 4 of the YA Squad covers are absolutely stunning! I totally know what you mean, it sounds like Frankie was expressed really well and I'm looking forward to reading it. YESSS you are one of us now Aila! I can differentiate yours and Jenna's voices as well! It's so exciting, Happy Indulgence for the win!
Hmm. I don't know about you guys but that first bak sounds like it has a lot of cliches in it, with the whole "mean girl and her possy, plus the popular guy " and all that. But I do love the fact that it has a beachy theme to it! <3
Yeah, there were some cliches but I'm glad the main character's life wasn't a cliche. A lot of books only explore the middle class and it was good to read something a bit different.
Thanks for bringing our attention to Australian titles, girls! I’m not sure Yellow is for me, I’m not a fan of magical realism. I prefer books being contemporary or paranormal, and have troubles with books that mix both. I agree that this novel raises important topic. And Frankie sounds like an interesting heroine; and I’m glad to hear that the romance took back sit here. Also I really love covers to these books.
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I know what you mean, I'm not the best with magical realism either. The covers are excellent!
I loved Yellow! And I love that low-income families are being represented in YA fiction because most of it is dominated by middle-class stories. I'll definitely have to give Frankie a go as well – I love Aussie YA (OBVIOUSLY) and I love contemporary YA so it looks like one for me 🙂
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I thought it was done really well too from the low income angle! It wasn't all just doom and gloom. I can't wait to read Frankie as well. Yay, hope you enjoy it as well Emily!
I'm always looking for more Aussie YA so I'll definitely check these two out! 🙂 Great reviews girls!
Thanks Bee, I'm glad you enjoyed it!
Frankie sounds fabulous! I had my eyes on this book because of awesome blurb for a while and your review sealed the deal for me. I hope it becomes available worldwide soon!
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I know, I've heard so many fantastic things about it especially with the character's voice as well! I just found it on The Book Depository!