Graffiti Moon – Cath Crowley

Well, I finally read Graffiti Moon, and it is beautiful. The book is set in Melbourne and truly captures the heart of the city. The story is set over one night and is told in alternating chapters by Lucy, Ed and “Poet”.

Lucy loves art, reading and is a curious individual. Lucy is in love with “Shadow”. She feels she knows Shadow through his graffiti art and that Shadow is her soulmate (if only she knew who he was). Lucy, herself, is also an artist. She is a glass blower and knows that even some of the most beautiful pieces of glass have cracks running through them and this theme is developed as the book progresses through the night. Lucy’s friends are Daisy and Jazz who are both outspoken, frank but likeable girls.

Ed is a dyslexia teen who has dropped out of school and is currently unemployed. His two best friends are Leo and Dylan. Two years ago, Lucy and Ed went out, and Lucy broke his nose. This was there one and only date!

Poet is Shadow’s best friend. He often writes poetry to accompany Shadow’s art.

Daisy, Jazz and Lucy have decided to go out and celebrate finishing Year twelve. Leo and Dylan are also out marking the end of Year 12 and have roped Ed in to join them in their fun. The girls run into the boys while out and they decide to all hang out together, much to the reluctance of Ed and Lucy. In the end, the only reason Lucy stays is that the boys tell her that they know who Shadow and Poet are and will help the girls track the two boys down.

Unbeknownst to the girls but revealed to the reader is the fact that Ed and Leo are Shadow and Poet. Ed is an unenthusiastic participant in this game of finding “Shadow & Poet”, but during the evening finds himself travelling the city with Lucy looking at Shadow’s art and trying to track Shadow down.

The beauty of this book is that it is set at night, and so as a reader, we are able to glimpse into the life of Melbourne teens under the cover of darkness. Crowley allows us to spend a night with these teens who are experimenting with life and living large. They are on the cusp of finishing school and discovering who they are and what they want their life to be. Exams are yet to happen, life outside of school is within their grasp, and their futures are there for the taking.

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Tin Heart – Shivaun Plozza

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During a trip to Maleny recently we stopped at the local bookshop, and I bought a copy of Tin Heart by Shivaun Plozza. My expectations for this book were high. I was a huge fan of Frankie. I remember reading it in my role as CBCA judge, and I immediately knew within a few pages that it was going to be a short-listed book. I was nervous about reading Tin Heart and can only imagine how Shivaun Plozza felt about writing and publishing ‘the difficult second book’. I was not to be disappointed, Tin Heart like Frankie is gritty, funny and moving.

One of the reasons that I loved Frankie so much was because she was a character that you both enjoyed and disliked. At times it was confusing to like Frankie because of her attitude and the choices she made, but deep down you knew that she didn’t mean to hurt anyone and there was no malice in her. Marlowe in Tin Heart is very similar to Frankie in this regard, but in every other way, they are different. When I talked to boys about the character of Frankie, I would say that she was the type of girl you should want to date or be best friends with and I also think Marlowe would make a great girlfriend/best-friend.

In her second novel, Tin Heart (Penguin), Shivaun Plozza tells the story of seventeen-year-old Marlowe who undergoes an organ transplant. Marlowe Jensen was The Dying Girl, and now she has a second chance at life, but Marlowe is finding it hard to move on with her new life when she now has someone else’s heart beating in her chest. She feels an overwhelming need to know more about her donor and so sets off on a quest to find her donor’s family, disregarding their request for no contact. Of course, Marlowe’s determination to get to know her donor and his family creates emotional chaos and sets in motion a chain of events that will impact on everyone around her.

Despite these strong themes, Tin Heart remains light-hearted and funny. It is gorgeously written and has a cast of engaging characters that will delight and charm you. There is Pip, Marlowe’s younger brother who likes dressing up in costumes but with a twist – gingham pinafore, red wig, combat boots and tiger-face paint (Jungle Anne of Green Gables, of course). Her mum, the vegan warrior who has just opened her dream vegan-organic-wellness store (Blissfully Aware) and who lives her life as vegan/mother warrior. Oh, and of course Blissfully Aware just happens to be next door to Bert’s quality butcher. Then there is Zan, the Chinese-Australian girl who is ‘the coolest of cool’. And Leo, the butcher’s son who Marlowe finds endearing and exasperating. Plozza has a gift for writing flawed but adorable characters that stay with you long after you finish the book.

Frankie was the novel that introduced us to Shivaun Plozza, and as readers, we quickly realise what immense talent she was, and Tin Heart only reinforces this and makes us understand that Plozza is a captivating voice in YA fiction and will continue to find a place in our hearts with her gorgeous books.

Tin Heart2 Continue reading Tin Heart – Shivaun Plozza