Pages: 264 (Paperback)
Kate Elliot isn’t trying to fit in – that’s the whole point of being a goth, isn’t it?
Everything about her – from her hair to her clothes – screams different and the girls at her school give her a wide berth. How can Kate be herself, really herself, when she’s hiding her big secret? The one that landed her in boarding school in the first place. She’s buried it down deep but it always seems to surface.
But then sometimes your soul mates sneak up on you in the most unlikely of places. Like Norris Grammar Boarding School for Girls, where’s she’s serving a life sentence, no parole, because her parents kicked her out.
So, how do you take that first step and reveal your secrets when you’re not sure that people want to see the real you?
There was a reason that Melina Marchetta launched this book. I think I can safely put up a big sign over Pip Harry’s name that says, “Watch This Space.”
And because Pip Harry is Australian – instead of being lauded as brilliant and fantasmazeballs, she just gets put in that neat little category of Great Australian Writers like Melina Marchetta, Kirsty Eagar, Markus Zusak, Garth Nix, Shirley Marr, Lucy Christopher and Laura Buzo. I’m sure at least a couple of them aren’t really Australian but we have a tendency of just claiming people as our own – so just go with it.
This was the story of socially awkward Goth girl, Kate, dealing with being kicked out of home, relating to a bunch of boarders and rectifying her home situation whilst dealing with her own crushing insecurities.
It’s about being fifteen and stupid, and lucky, and angry, and confused and frustrated.
What really spoke to me was the brash reality of Kate’s life. Things aren’t just glossed over or purified through a decency filter for the reader. This isn’t about teens hanging out in designer clothes and playing baseball with their parents on a Sunday afternoon. This is about a girl who drinks, who wants to have sex, who has an uncontrollable temper and a difficult personality. And since Harry embraces that truth and rawness of narration, she’s able to induce strong emotional moments between the characters of the novel.
My biggest concern was on the Goth thing. I was concerned that the book would be full of bad poetry and musings about the futileness of happiness. And in the interest of full disclosure, everything I learned about Goths came from Southpark.
But it turns out, like with most things, the label is just a window dressing for an otherwise normal girl dealing with otherwise normal teenage things. She just happens to be Goth while she’s doing it. And even though I still don’t know what that means, I learned a very valuable lesson… don’t piss off Goth people or your intestines will become their floss! Okay, maybe not the lesson you’re supposed to learn, but, whatever.
I enjoyed Pip Harry’s style of narration and the book flows well for the first three quarters. Right up until the last quarter I would have said it was a five star novel. In the last quarter, the narration really slips into denouement mode and becomes very telling and to be honest, both myself and the story weren’t quite ready for that. It’s like when you’re still colouring and your parent/teacher comes along and starts asking you to pack up and you’re like, “Hold it! I’m still going here! THE FOOT ISN’T FINISHED!”
There was still some story left to go but the edge had gone from the novel because we were in the nice, comforting wrap-up phase of storytelling.
If you’re a fan of Aussie novels, Melina Marchetta, heart-warming tales or good times, then I highly suggest you give this one a go.
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