Take Three Girls

 

 

Take Three Girls is one of those novels that comes with high expectations. Three award-winning authors are writing together in one book. The first time I read this novel, I wasn’t quite sure what all the fuss was about and it was only on my second reading that I appreciated the three narratives that Cath Crowley, Simmone Howell and Fiona Wood had blended together.  The book’s chapters switch between each girl’s individual view. Take Three Girls is a book so well written that you take the subtleties and the nuances of this beautifully crafted novel for granted.

Ady, Clem and Kate are thrown together as part of their elite school’s Wellness Program. The three girls are put together in a group (based on their thumb size). The Wellness Program forces the girls to interact with one another and it is through this compulsory group that the three girls get to know each other better, eventually becoming friends. These three girls were barely acquaintances and without the program most likely would never have become friends – Clem is a star swimmer, Ady is the Queen Bee and Kate is a quiet over-achieving musician.

As the book progresses you realise there is more to each girl then the label they have been given. All of them are trying to find their way in the world. The girls are on an exploration to discover who they are and how they fit into the world that they live. The book also introduces us to the online site called PSST (Private Schools Secret Tracker). PSST is an online social media site that takes delight in bullying – mainly through body and slut shaming (most of which is untrue). PSST is a toxic website that shows how toxic online social media sites can be and the damage they can unleash.

“The class is filing in for Wellness, a new program designed to cure us of the urge to trash each other on social media. I love the internet, code, computers. I love that if I miss Ben, I can summon him into my room and talk to him over Skype. It’s the most mind-bending invention in the last century and how do humans use it? They access porn and talk smack about each other.’

What I love about this book is that it is a celebration of friendship. Take Three Girls captures what good friendship looks like but it also shows what bad friendship looks like.

“Friends. It seems so simple it’s dumb, but it took you a while to get onboard – a friend is someone you can be real with. No games, no faking it, no showing off, no putting down, no power plays. Not cool or hot or mean or unpopular or fashionable or competing with each other. Just being true. And how that makes you feel is…relaxed.”

This book also celebrates how a few can make a difference in a small way. This is a book about showing teenagers that if everyone made a stand (even in a small way), then the bullies can be put in their place. Online bullying is most likely here to stay, but rather than embracing it and relishing the gossip and takedown of others – stand up, speak out and do what you can. It may only be small. It may not make a huge difference, but it will make a difference. Teenagers are an influential group and they can make a change. Ady, Clem and Kate took on an online site and they may not have stopped it but their small action brought joy and beauty to many and this ultimately is what life is about – giving happiness and taking away pain, even if it is for just a moment.

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5 Brilliant YA novels you need in your life

blue

If you love books and bookshops, you will adore this book because this is a love letter to books, words and bookshops. Cath Crowley writes with love and humour, and you can’t help but be swept up in this book about grief, love and the power of words. Her characters are gorgeous, yet flawed and complicated. This is a book that every lover of books needs in their life.

“‘But I love you, and before you say it words do matter. They’re not pointless. If they were pointless then they couldn’t start revolutions and they wouldn’t change history and they wouldn’t be things that you think about every night before you go to sleep. If they were just words we wouldn’t listen to songs, we wouldn’t beg to be read to when we’re kids. If they were just words, then they’d have no meaning and stories wouldn’t have been around since before humans could write. We wouldn’t have learnt to write. If they were just words then people wouldn’t fall in love because of them, stop aching because of them, have sex, quite a lot of the time, because of them.”

beautiful

Beautiful Mess is a beautifully written novel. I loved it from the moment Ava started screaming at Mr Bryan on the first page. The story is driven by the beautiful, gutsy, grief-stricken Ava. She has lost her best friend Kelly, and she is angry and making not so right choices in life. She meets Gideon, and he helps her through her grief. Shy, anxious Gideon has his own issues, but Ava and Gideon through writing letters and poetry find their way through their pain and issues and come out on the other side. Claire Christian deals with some weighty issues, but she navigates these issues with humour and love. She captures the rawness of grief exquisitely, particularly grief associated with suicide. I loved the letters and the poetry (I love letters!), and I LOVED the ending!

yellow

Yellow is an engaging and well-written book. A lot is going on in the book – Kirra is a fourteen-year-old girl who has a troubled home life, is being bullied at school and she encounters a ghost! But somehow Megan Jacobson makes it work and makes it work brilliantly. The characters are likeable, and the small Australian beach town adds to the book wonderfully. When I first read the blurb for this book and saw that it had a supernatural element, I was immediately sceptical, but once I had read the first page, I was hooked.

               “I know this to be true: there is a special corner of hell that’s called being a fourteen-year-old girl.”

This is a book that you’ll find confronting at times, but then suddenly you will be laughing and then entirely out of the blue it will throw in a twist. It is quite the read!

sidekicks

The Sidekicks by Will Kostakis is a beautifully written, genuinely funny book. Ryan, Harley and Miles don’t have much in common except for their mutual best-friend, Isaac. The beautiful, charming Isaac who died too soon. The book is divided up into three parts, and we hear from all three boys and find out why Isaac was so crucial to each and every one of the boys. The boys are all different and yet all viewed Isaac as their best friend. Ryan is the golden-boy jock. Harley is the rebel. Miles is the class nerd. As the stories are told we learn more about Isaac, and we learn more about each of the boys’ through the eyes of the other boys. There are heaps of laughs in this book, and at times you will find yourself laughing out loud, and at other times your heart will break for each and every boy.

beatle

Beatle Meets Destiny. This is one of my favourite books.  John “Beatle” Lennon meets Destiny McCartney on Friday the 13th and Beatle being a highly superstitious boy decides that their meeting is fate. The only trouble is that Beatle has a girlfriend named Cilla, who happens to be pretty amazing. The story continues on in this manner where Beatle and Destiny continued to stumble across each other in bizarre and yet utterly believable ways. Destiny is feisty and gorgeous, and Beatle has quite the dilemma on his hands. The book is all about chance and fate. It is about being young and making mistakes and then making more mistakes! It is hilarious. If you like quirky comedies, you will love this book. The story plays out in Melbourne which becomes another character in the novel. A brilliant novel by a brilliant writer – Gabrielle Williams.

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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The Day I Met Cath Crowley

After reading Words in Deep Blue, I fell in love with Cath Crowley and her writing. While at Somerset Literature Festival I attended one of Cath’s session. During the session, Cath focussed on her book Grafitti Moon, which I understood considering the audience (secondary students), but I so wanted to hear more about Words in Deep Blue. BUT Cath Crowley drew me into her presentation with her beautiful manner and her likeable personality. Cath’s writing is funny and warm, and this comes through when she speaks. After listening to Cath talk about Grafitti Moon, I now want to read it, and I can’t believe I haven’t read it before now.

During her presentation she made me laugh, and I could see within her the beautiful soul that it took to write such an extraordinary book such as Words in Deep Blue. For those of you who haven’t read Words in Deep Blue, you should definitely put it on your ‘to read’ list.

Words in Deep Blue is a love story about a second-hand bookshop named Howling Books, where readers write letters to strangers, to lovers, to poets, to words. It is also the story of Henry and Rachel who were once best friends and are now finding their way back to each other. Words in Deep Blue is a book that loves books, words and readers. Cath Crowley draws you into the book with her beautiful writing, and she takes a book about love, grief and death and makes it both funny and heartbreaking. It is a book that will linger with you long after you have finish reading.

Once the session had finished, I made my way to the bookshop where Cath was signing books. We chatted a little, and I told her that when I was reading Words in Deep Blue, I wasn’t talking to my boyfriend. We had a huge fight, and I was shutting him out. At the time he was in Canada, and I was in Australia. While I was reading this beautiful book, I knew that he would love this story. He would want to visit Howling Books (his favourite places are second-hand bookstores). He would laugh with the characters who are all flawed but adorable. So I sent him a text and told him that I had found a book with a second-hand bookstore that he would want to live in and just like that, I broke the freeze and that’s the power of a great book! Lucky for me Cath enjoyed my story (or pretended to) and didn’t think I was too creepy!

It is always scary meeting an author or going to an author’s presentation because sometimes they just don’t live up to your expectations but I am happy to say that Cath Crowley exceeded my expectations. She was delightful, kind and beautiful and it makes me love Words in Deep Blue even more, and I didn’t think that was possible.

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