Good Reading : May 2016
GOODREADINGMAGAZINE.COM.AU GOOD READING MAY 2016 66 When We Collided Emery Lord Jonah’s father has died and his mother has sunk into a deep depression. That means Jonah is now weighed down with responsibilities that most 17-year-olds don’t have to face. When Vivi comes to town, she brings colour and joy back into his life. What’s more, she infuses love and warmth into his entire family. Little does he know, but Vivi has her own dark secrets and deep problems. Gradually she spirals out of control. At first Jonah thinks she’s just vivacious and eccentric, but then it becomes obvious that there is more to it than that. This beautiful story of first love explores deep issues: grief, depression, mental health, loneliness, family and relationships. Vivi bursts onto the page like an exploding star. Jonah is a lovely, wounded soul with a huge heart. We are reminded of the lyrics of the INXS song: ‘... I was standing / You were there / Two worlds collided ...’ Emery Lord’s text sings. When We Collided is a joyous read. Bloomsbury $17.99 Reviewed by Wendy Noble Age guide 14+ YOUNG ADULT WOM word of mouth RATINGS RG Every Exquisite Thing Matthew Quick Nanette O’Hare is the star athlete on her school soccer team and an all-round good girl – that is, until she reads The Bubblegum Reaper, a book about teenage rebellion. Suddenly she is skipping class instead of scoring goals, and falling for Alex, a troubled poet who helps her establish a new identity away from the mundanity of mainstream society. I picked up this book with high expectations, after seeing it compared to The Catcher in the Rye and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. However, after about two chapters my hopes were dwindling, and after ten they were all but extinguished. It’s not that the writing is bad. It’s just bland. Matthew Quick’s descriptions lack life, the romance lacks chemistry and his dialogue is at best unnatural and at worse an excuse for info-dumping. Nanette, furthermore, is just not an interesting character. While a rebellious teenage girl is a welcome deviation from the usual character template, Nanette’s rebellion often feels like an excuse to shame girls who are only interested in boys, make-up and other stereotypical preoccupations of girls. And maybe this would have been okay if these girls were also more fully realised characters. But they weren’t, and it was just an oversimplification of teenage girls and their lifestyles. Nanette is also bullied about being gay, which doesn’t make sense because the book explicitly says she is straight. While LGBT representation can never be bad thing, the way Quick handled it was a facile appropriation of queer issues rather than real representation. The fact that characters were spreading rumours about Nanette’s sexuality also implied that even the possibility of being gay was something to be ashamed of. Every Exquisite Thing consequently came across as antiquated and, frankly, homophobic. The book did improve towards the end, after Quick dropped the unnecessary love plot and lesbian rumours. But it was never enough for redemption. And it was never enough to keep me interested. Headline $19.99 Reviewed by Emma Stubley About Emery Lord Emery Lord is a 20-something author who lives in a 100-year-old house in Cincinnati, Ohio, with a scientist, a one-eyed beagle and a dog named Winston Churchill.