Saturday, September 24, 2011

YA Book review: About A Girl by Joanne Horniman

About a Girl
About a Girl
by Joanne Horniman

About A Girl by Joanne Horniman is a passionate, lively read for older teens about a ... well, about two girls in Australia. The narrator, Anna, a bright moody redhead, and the lovely and unpredictable bisexual Flynn who forms a chapter of love and loss in Anna's life between parental divorce, depression, jobs and university. Age wise, the characters are late teens, and are making the shift to adulthood (unlike a lot of YA books, which are aimed at leaving childhood).

I didn't quite find it to my taste, but enjoyed it more on a second read (when I wasn't spending the whole time waiting for the love affair to turn up, and knew it was inevitably doomed). It does confirm somewhat the tired old stereotype that bisexuals are inherently unfaithful - but personally, I think that was just Flynn, and if she hadn't found Anna, she could have easily found a guy instead. However, the attraction caught her by surprise as much as Anna - which is something you don't expect, as she seem's so very much in control of the situation.

Somewhat unique in that it is both suitable for older teens and Australians (hah), it's a fairly airily written  book from Anna's perspective that can be a little hard to follow. Broken into three sections, the narration felt a little jumpy - but that's partly because I picked it up expecting to meet Flynn fairly quickly. The first part is Anna retelling her childhood and adolescence... after meeting and leaving Flynn. The second part is her bout of independence, leaving her hometown and working and meeting the unpredictable and captivating Flynn. The third part is Anna moving on, older and wiser, and missing Flynn.

Some of the language used is beautiful. For example: I remember when we lay together for the first time and I closed my eyes and felt the crackle of her dark hair between my fingers. She was all warmth and sparking light. When I was with her, my skin sighed that the centre of the world was precisely here.

Anna is very smart, depressive, and very lacking in self confidence - she can be a bit difficult to put up with, and you just want to shake her when she decides she's unlovable, but it's nice to see a teen queer book about someone who has issues that aren't centred on 'oh no I am gay!'. She has issues, she's gay, she worries about getting a girlfriend - but only because of her issues, she never worries that it will be a girlfriend. Her first crush is her father's new wife, which makes her early teen years a bit more difficult. And really, the book is about her - Flynn has a major impact on her, but it's just one excerpt in her life, the memorable first love affair, and then Anna climbs back up, and moves on to a future full - one feels - of sexy flings and sweethearts.

A recommended book for young adults, partly on its own merits, partly because it fills a gap in LGBT literature I didn't quite realise was there before. It feels quite unique, and I'm not sure what to compare the 'voice' of the book to.

You can order About A Girl on Amazon (Kindle & dead tree format)

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