Before the Beginning: #loveozya Review

The story of four friends, a mysterious stranger, and the week when everything changed. For fans of We Were Liars.

Schoolies week: that strange in-between time when teenagers move from school into the adult world. It’s a week when anything is possible, and everything can change.

Grace is questioning everything she thought about herself, and has opted not to join her clique of judgemental friends for schoolies, instead tagging along with her brother Casper and his friends. Casper, an artist, is trying to create the perfect artwork for his uni application folio. Overachieving, anxiety-ridden Noah is reeling from a catastrophe that might have ruined his ATAR result. And Elsie is just trying to figure out how to hold their friendship group together.

On the first night of the trip, they meet Sierra, a mysterious girl with silver-grey hair and a magnetic personality. All of them are drawn to her for different reasons, and she persuades them to abandon the cliched schoolies experience in favour of camping with her on a remote, uninhabited island. On that island, each of them will find answers to their questions. But what does Sierra want from them?

An empathetic and suspenseful coming-of-age story from the author of All That Impossible Space.


Before the Beginning by Anna Morgan, published September 29th, 2020. I received a review copy from Hachette via the #AusYABloggers – Thank You! 

Anna Morgan’s writing captured me from the first page. I loved this book way more than I was expecting to. I went into this book thinking it was a contemporary coming of age tale, it is that, but it is also so much more. My Rating: ✵✵✵✵✵

This “schoolies” story is split up into five parts and is told through multiple points of view as the plot progresses.

The first narrator we meet is Grace. She is extremely endearing, and I was immediately drawn to her. Grace is at a point in her life where she is finding her church and her friend group does not fit her anymore (hence why she is spending schoolies with her brother’s mates). Nothing makes me happier than normalised sexual diversity, so Grace getting to have her first girl on girl kiss on the island and getting to journey with her as her entire world shifts, was bliss. While we are inside Grace’s head, we find out how lost and alone she is feeling. But also, how worried she is for her brother’s future too, even if for the most part he treats her dismissively and she always feels she has to compete with him and make up for his shortcomings.

The second narrator we meet is Noah. Oh, what a beautiful Bubba Boy. I just wanted to hug Noah and take him to therapy. This kid made the mother in me rear up, I wanted to help this kid. I wanted to nurture this kid. I saw a lot of my eldest son in Noah and it made my heartache. The poor bub has crippling anxiety and is way too hard on himself. He is super smart and a total sweetheart. While we are inside Noah’s head, we find out how pressure is on him to succeed and we see him crumble and break – thankfully he has good mates to help put him with some much-needed RNR and moral support.

The third narrator we meet is Casper at just around the halfway mark of the story. I really did not like Casper until I got to be in his head. He tends to get lost in his own head, losing track of the real world, and sometimes really struggles to get out and is left feeling a little out of sync. With the end of his chapters, we get to experience him realising what a dick he had been, but also the story really ramps up in suspense and action.

The fourth narrator we meet is Elsie. Oh Elsie, she is trying to get over her crush on her bestie, trying to figure out what she wants to do after school, who she wants to be, and trying to hold her group of friends together. Elsie and Grace were quite standoffish at first and I loved seeing their friendship grow.

For the fifth and final part of the story narration swaps back to Grace.

I have talked about the others, so now I must mention the last of all the main characters, the one who pushes the plot along to its flaring conclusion, but does not get to narrate the story. The one teen who was a stranger to the rest of them in the beginning. Oh, Sierra! Is she the ghost of a girl who died on Shearwater Island, or just a copycat using her name, or is she something else, perhaps a mythical creature from the sea? I do not want to tell you what I think about who or what Sierra is (I changed my mind a few times along the way). I want you to meet her and make up your own mind.

This book touches on faith, sexuality, sibling rivalry, growing up, the pressure put on kids relating to final exams, and picking the perfect careers. Each of the four friends’ journeys was beautiful, full of reflection and personal growth, their time on the island only strengthening their bonds of friendship.

BEFORE THE BEGINNING is a phenomenal read, a cut above the rest, and it will stay with you for quite some time.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anna was born in Sydney, but spent most of her childhood surrounded by mountains in Nepal and Tibet while her parents were part of an international community of health professionals. Navigating this cross-cultural life made her a curious observer of people, although most of her time was spent reading Enid Blyton and dreaming of going to boarding school. This did not cushion the shock of shifting from home-school in Tibet to an all-girls high school in Melbourne when her family returned to Australia. All That Impossible Space explores some of the intense and convoluted friendships that thrive in this setting. Anna completed a MA in Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University in 2015, and now lives in Melbourne with her husband. She works as a bookseller.
Thanks for visiting sarahfairbairn.com 🙂
Until next time, enjoy your shelves 🙂

Sea of Gratitude: #LoveOzYA Review

Sea of Gratitude (The Bikini Collective #3)
by Kate McMahon
Genre: Contemporary #LoveOzYa
Publication: March 1st 2020
Review copy from Author – Thank You
Add to Goodreads
Rating: ✵✵✵✵✵

Three friends discover, surfing just got serious.

Book three in the Bikini Collective series sees the girls preparing for another action-packed surfing adventure, but one of them is burdened with secrets. With all of her scholarship funds exhausted, Carolyn has no choice: she’ll have to drop off the World Junior Tour. Just as all seems lost, the Bikini Collective – along with a mysterious donor – save the day. Next stop: Brazil! The lush South American tropics are dreamy; playful waves, everyday fiestas and beautiful, smooth-talking Brazilians. But can Carolyn find what it means to truly be happy? Just like a calm ocean with a deceiving undercurrent, things aren’t always what they seem.


In the first book we saw the three friends – Jaspa, Mel and Carolyn – competing in Australia while learning how to navigate staying friends and competing against each other. The second book sees the girls head to Malibu to attend their first World Junior Tour event as part of the Australian team, and their first-time leaving Oz. The first book focuses more on Jaspa, her awkward adorableness and her relationship with her brother. The second book was all up in Mel’s head as she learns how to tell who her real friends are, how not to get lost in the glitz and glamour and how to appreciate the things/people she has in her life. In this the third book the girls head to Brazil with the Australian World Junior Tour team and we follow along with Carolyn as she struggles with feeling like she does not belong.

15-year-old Carolyn does not feel like she fits, anywhere. Certainly not with her more well to do besties and classmates. She has very little faith in her own abilities as a competitive surfer and feels like a fraud on the team.

Carolyn’s qualified for the World Junior Tour but she doesn’t have the money to make it to Brazil. All her scholarship funds have been used up on surf school fees and the Malibu trip. She has been trying to save money from her part time job, but with having to help her mum make rent, she can’t get the funds together. Her friends find out about Carolyn not having the funds and they get together to host a fundraising event, and thus the Brazil trip begins.

Carolyn tries to keep everything locked up inside. She spends a lot of the book stressing about her mum back home, money, her mystery father and later, her sexuality. While all her problems are not resolved by the end of the book, she does learn that she is good enough, that she’s not alone and that her friends and family have her back. She also manages to score the best wave of her life and have a stellar competition run.

Sea of Gratitude is full of all the things I loved from the first two books. The surfing action scenes are written so descriptively that you feel like you are out on the wave. And the story is cute and quick-paced, full of heart and Girl Power!

I think that Sea of Gratitude could probably be read as a standalone, but then you would be depriving yourself of the fun of the first two books and building a deeper connection to the characters.

Who would like this book: While it’s listed as YA, this is a clean book that’d I’d recommend for ages 10 and up. Water and surf lovers. #LoveOZYA aficionados. And lovers of friendship filled tales. I applauded Kate for managing to create an exciting series that doesn’t use sex, violence, or OTT romance to make it captivating.

Kate McMahon: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

View my review of book one HERE & book two HERE.

Thanks for visiting sarahfairbairn.com 🙂
Until next time, enjoy your shelves 🙂

Kindred: #AusQueerYA Review

43197387Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories, a #AusQueerYA anthology
Genre: Young Adult, LGBT fiction, Short Stories
Publication: June 1st 2019
Publisher: Walker Books Australia
Source: #AusYABloggers #KindredStories tour
Add to Goodreads
Rating: ✵✵✵✵

What does it mean to be queer? What does it mean to be human? In this powerful #LoveOzYA collection, twelve of Australia’s finest writers from the LGBTQ+ community explore the stories of family, friends, lovers and strangers – the connections that form us.

This inclusive and intersectional #OwnVoices anthology for teen readers features work from writers of diverse genders, sexualities and identities, including writers who identify as First Nations, people of colour or disabled. With short stories by bestsellers, award winners and newcomers to young adult fiction including Jax Jacki Brown, Claire G Coleman, Michael Earp, Alison Evans, Erin Gough, Benjamin Law, Omar Sakr, Christos Tsiolkas, Ellen van Neerven, Marlee Jane Ward, Jen Wilde and Nevo Zisin.

Includes a foreword by anthology editor Michael Earp, resources for queer teens, contributor bios and information about the #LoveOzYA movement.


I was super excited when I first heard about Kindred. It’s always fantastic seeing queer fiction make it’s way out into the world. Even better when it’s a Aussie anthology with a diverse range of #OwnVoices authors. I was over the moon when Micheal Earp and Walker Books excepted our (the other #AusYaBloggers & readers group mods and I) pitch for hosting a queer only tour.

I made my way down to the Sydney Writers Festival’s YA day at Parramatta’s Riverside Theater buzzing with excitement to attend the Kindred panel.  Hearing Micheal talk about how Kindred came to be and hearing some of the authors talk about their writing, only made me more excited to see the book in our tour participants hands. It’s now day five of the tour and it’s my stop.

This is the first anthology I’ve read that swaps genre. Anthology’s always have a theme, be it first kisses, summer holidays, landing on new planet etc. and in Kindred case, being Queer. I’ve only ever read anthologies where the stories are all sci-fi or contemporary romances etc.
When I first heard of Kindred I thought/assumed it was going to be a series of contemporary short stories where the authors fictionalised a positive queer experience for the benefit of teen readers new/struggling with their queerness. You know, to give them hope, and so they could see themselves represented etc. I guess really, this is what I had hoped Kindred would be.
Never the less the moving around of genres didn’t really bother me (most were contemporary anyways) as I do try to read a little of all genres for variety. I LOVED the variety of own voices rep! So ****ing awesome to see! It makes my heart sing!

BUUUUUT, Trigger warnings – homophobia, death of loved one, ableism, depression, racism, transphobia, pedophilia. Yeah it gets heavy folks. But life is heavy. Okay, I get that. But a story can get heavy and hard and dark, then still end up leaving you filled with light and hope and love. As far as positive examples for teens, I think Kindred may have missed the mark – but you’ll have to ask a teens option on that. I wanted happy queer stories to combat the ugly of the real world. But that’s what I wanted. I still think this is a brilliant and much needed collection and I hope it opens the door to more queer collections.

RATS by Marlee Jane Ward. F/F romance. I found this story a little odd. A semi futuristic world. Homeless teens know as rats. Some insta-love with a trouble seeking open air ”babe” and a “rat” tunnel dweller. Mostly I liked it.

IN CASE OF EMERGENCY, BREAK GLASS by Erin Gough. Questioning protagonist, f/f romance. A sweet and heartwarming contemporary story with a magical realism twist. I found it a delight to read.

BITTER DRAUGHT by Michael Earp. M/M relationship.  Two young men, a sick little sister and a journey to see a witch to get a cure. I enjoyed it for the most part, but it had a sad ending. Why Micheal, why.

I LIKE YOUR ROTATION by Jax Jacki Brown. Lesbian wheelchair-using protagonist and love interest. Super sweet self discovery story focusing on the intersection of disability and identity, exploring friendship and sexuality. I really enjoyed it and would have loved to be able to have kept reading.

SWEET by Claire G. Coleman. POC non-binary protagonist. This one left me feeling really unsettled. It was a swap around story where the oppressed became the oppressors. It just felt harsh and bitter. And I worry it might be harmful to some younger readers.

LIGHT BULB by Nevo Zisin. Non-binary protagonist. Absolutely breathtakingly beautiful. Dark and deep. I wholeheartedly loved it. It spoke to the darkness in my soul. My Jam! Maybe you’d class the story as horror? But to me there was nothing horrific about it. Please Nevo write more fiction!!!

WAITING by Jen Wilde. Autistic bisexual protagonist. Contemporary tale dealing with toxic friendships. A story with a happy ending! The protagonist finds people she feels comfortable being herself with. True friends in the making. And brownie points to Jen for the Brooklyn 99, Stephanie Beatriz nods!

LAURA NYRO AT THE WEDDING by Christos Tsiolkas. M/M relationship. No, just no. Totally inappropriate for a teen anthology! – The story is not even YA and the side subject matter (student/teacher relationship). I just…no. No.

EACH CITY by Ellen van Neerven. POC protagonist, f/f relationship. I found the story to have an abrupt unresolved ending. Didn’t feel like the story got to finish, felt like it was only just beginning and I want the rest. This just left me feeling empty and unsettled. Ellen, did she make it home? I need/want to know how it all played out.

AN ARAB WEREWOLF IN LONDON by Omar Sakr. Muslim gay protagonist, Muslim m/m love interest. Without the werewolf element this could have been a smoking hot m/m contemporary. But I really liked it as it was. I’ve got Omar’s These Wild Houses sitting on my shelf to read, but i’d also love to read more fiction like this from Omar!!

STORMLINES by Allison Evans. Non-binary protagonist. A heartwarming story about finding somewhere that feels like home.

QUESTIONS TO ASK STRAIGHT RELATIVES by Benjamin Law. Chinese/Australian gay protagonist, background m/m relationship. More personal essay then short story. But I loved it and felt it was the perfect way to finish of a queer anthology.


 Follow along with the tour here > > The AusYABloggers Tour Schedule

Purchase Links: Angus and RobinsonBooktopiaAmazon AustraliaFishpondThe Book Depository

 

If you purchase the book from The Little Bookroom you can have it signed By Michael Earp. All you have to do is mention in the order notes that you followed the Kindred Tour and would like your copy signed by Michael.

For people looking to find a bookshop near them: Find A Bookshop.

Thanks for visiting sarahfairbairn.com 🙂
Until next time, enjoy your shelves 🙂

Michael Earp: Author Q&A

Michael is a Children’s and Young Adult bookseller and writer.
He is the editor of the collection Kindred: A Queer #LoveOzYA Anthology which will be published by Walker Books Australia this coming June.
And he also contributed the story ‘Meet and Greet’ to Underdog: #LoveOzYA Short Stories, ‘Regulation’ to Aurealis #99 and ‘The Next Stop’ to The Victorian Writer.

Michael graciously took the time to do a Q&A with me earlier in the week and I am very excited to share it with you.


DID YOU ALWAYS DREAM OF BECOMING A WRITER? 

My desire to be a writer developed gradually. I’ve always written. Starting with the terrible teenage poetry, of a 14 year old. But I never stopped journaling in free verse. Then I got a job in a bookshop as a 19 year old and rediscovered my love of books. Then started wondering if I couldn’t write them myself.

CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR WRITING PROCESS; WHERE YOU DRAW INSPIRATION FROM FOR YOUR STORIES, DO YOU HAVE ANY PRE-WRITING RITUALS OR MAYBE EVEN A PREFERRED WRITING PLACE?

I often have to tidy my desk. Clear workspace, clear mind and all that. And while I can journal and/or daydream stories anywhere, I find it very difficult to write or edit a work in progress with other people around, so I tend to do most of my writing at my desk at home, trying hard to pretend the rest of the world doesn’t exist. I’m VERY easily distracted.
As for inspiration? A lot of my ideas come from images, or snapshots from a scene that appears in my head. Then I get really curious to what came before, or what comes next, and I tease it out. Occasionally a story is in direct response to something I’ve heard. Regulation, my story in Aurealis #99 for example, was my reaction to comments someone said during the Safe Schools debate and I just felt erased in a single statement. That story just poured out of me, and I’m really proud of it.

[Note from Sarah: I purchased Aurealis #99 specifically to read Micheal’s short story Regulation. It was gripping, poignant and beautiful. It was a story that resonated within me. I am now feeling an even deeper level of connection to Regulation, after reading how it came about – I encourage you all to read it]

HAVE YOU FOUND THAT ANY WRITERS, CHILDHOOD FAVORITES PERHAPS, HAVE INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING?

There are certainly authors that while I don’t actively try to emulate their style, I maybe try to channel their vibe? Because I want my writing to be mine. But it’s hard not to aspire to be like the people you admire.

ARE THERE ANY BOOKS YOU WISH YOU HAD WRITTEN?

Ummm YES! But only in that the writer in me has grabby hands every time I read something I feel is brilliant. Margo Lanagan, Patrick Ness, David Levithan, David Almond just to name a few.

WHAT ISSUES DO YOU LIKE TO EXPLORE IN YOUR WRITING?

I’m really interested in the way that people relate to each other. The nuance of individual connections and relationships is what makes them fascinating. This includes people (or characters) relationship with themselves. All these connections are so bolstering and fraught that regardless of what the plot is doing, it’s that balance that intrigues me most.

I WAS ELATED WHEN I HEARD THAT YOU WERE PUTTING KINDRED TOGETHER (Kindred: A Queer #LoveOzYA Anthology). THE WORLD NEEDS MORE QUEER BOOKS! HOW DID YOU FEEL WHEN YOU GOT THE GO AHEAD?

ELATED! The world does need more queer books, so the fact that I was going to be able to help usher these amazing stories into the world was so exciting! I’ve been riding that wave for almost 2 years now. So now that the release is so very close (!) I’m ready for the world to have Kindred in their hands!

CAN YOU GIVE US YOUR TOP FIVE QUEER READS? – I KNOW, I KNOW, ONLY FIVE WHAAAAT. JUST GO WITH THE FIRST FIVE THAT POP INTO YOUR HEAD.

How. Dare. You.
Only 5? Sigh. Ok, here we go:
Release by Patrick Ness
Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
Welcome To Orphancorp by Marlee Jane Ward
I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson
Deadendia by Hamish Steele

WHAT ARE YOU READING AT THE MOMENT OR WHAT WAS THE LAST BOOK THAT YOU READ?

I’m currently reading Prisoncorp, the 3rd and final in Marlee Jane Ward’s FREAKING BRILLIANT series that started with Welcome to Orphancorp. Really, if you haven’t read it, go out and get it in your face.
My last 2 reads were After the Lights Go Out by Lili Wilkinson which was great (and I loved that the main character was bi, even though it wasn’t about her sexuality at all and the romance storyline was F/M). The other was Highway Bodies by Alison Evans, which all I can say is: If zombies are your thing, then what are you waiting for, and if they’re not, read it anyway. The characters and relationships Alison has created are heartwarming, crackling with life and so delightfully queer.


THANK YOU SO MUCH TO MICHAEL FOR TAKING THE TIME TO ANSWER MY QUESTIONS!

You find Michael here > >
Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Website

Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories – June 1st 2019, Walker Books Australia.

What does it mean to be queer? What does it mean to be human? In this powerful #OwnVoices collection, twelve of Australia’s finest queer writers explore the stories of family, friends, lovers and strangers – the connections that form us.

Compelling queer short fiction by bestsellers, award winners and newcomers to the #LoveOzYA community including Jax Jacki Brown, Claire G Coleman, Michael Earp, Alison Evans, Erin Gough, Benjamin Law, Omar Sakr, Christos Tsiolkas, Ellen van Neerven, Marlee Jane Ward, Jen Wilde and Nevo Zisin.

Sign ups are OPEN for the queer own voices Kindred tour.

To sign up or for more information see HERE.

Thanks for visiting The Adventures of SacaKat.
Until next time, enjoy your shelves :-).

Songs that sound like blood: Review & Playlist

27803898Songs That Sound Like Blood
by Jared Thomas
Genre: Contemporary YA
Publication: August 1st 2016
Publisher: Magabala Books
Source: Own Purchase
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Rating: ✵ ✵ ✵ ✵

Roxy May Redding’s got music in her soul and songs in her blood. She lives in a hot dusty town and is dreaming big. She survives run-ins with the mean girls at high school, sings in her dad’s band and babysits for her wayward aunt. But Roxy wants a new start. When she gets the chance to study music in the big city, she takes it. Roxy’s new life, her new friends and her music collide in a way she could never have imagined. Being a poor student sucks… navigating her way through the pressure of a national music competition has knobs on it… singing for her dinner is soul destroying… but nothing prepares Roxy for her biggest challenge. Her crush on Ana, the local music journo, forces her to steer her way through a complex maze of emotions alien to this small town girl. Family and friends watch closely as Roxy takes a confronting journey to find out who the hell she is.


Songs that sound like blood is a beautiful coming of age tale about a young aboriginal girl coming out and discovering herself. This story is filled with courage, love and music. It is a heartfelt yarn that I highly recommend you read.

This wonderful story features a same-sex-attracted aboriginal protagonist – Roxy. We follow Roxy as she finishes up high school in her small town and heads to the big smoke (Adelaide) to study music and follow her dreams of making it as a singer. 

Throughout the pages of this book there are fantastic examples of loving and supportive relationships, which I found delightful and heart warming.

This story also serves to highlight some of the many issues affecting Indigenous Australians. The writing is so good and the issues so intertwined and connected to the character Roxy’s life that you never feel like the author is trying to educate you, you just feel as if you are Roxy and you are living her truth with her.

Music plays a big part in Roxy life, so obviously it plays a big role in this story. I love music that you feel deep down in your soul and this book was full of it, with the likes of Bob Marley, Courtney Barnett, Yothu Yindi, Midnight Oil, The Pixies, Frank Yamma, Kev Carmondy, Paul Kelly, Coloured Stones, Warumpi Band, Dusty Springfield, Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave and Johnny Cash’s names gracing the pages.

Below I’ve listed and included a link to an apple music playlist I made of the songs performed in the book.


SONGS THAT SOUND LIKE BLOOD: A PLAYLIST

Songs Roxy performs on Starbright:
1) My Island Home by Neil Murray and performed by the Warumpi Band.
2) We Have Survived by No Fixed Address.

Songs “Soul Band” performs:
1) Soul Man by Sam and Dave.
2) I’m Coming by Sam and Dave.
3) Valerie by The Zutons (the book doesn’t state who Valerie is by, so I’m assuming that it is Valerie by The Zutons, later covered by Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson).
4) Midnight Hour by Wilson Pickett.

Song Roxy sings at the protest rally:
From Little Things Big Things Grow by Kev Carmondy and Paul Kelly.

Song Roxy sings at the Survival Day concert:
Dancing in the Moonlight by Coloured Stones

“When the applause died down Justin and I started playing Coloured Stones’s Dancing in the Moonlight – the blackest of black songs I knew.”

Songs of note: She Cried by Frank Yamma (the song Roxy mentions Frank signing while watching him perform to write her article for Stage).

[ SONGS THAT SOUND LIKE BLOOD PLAYLIST – listen to on apple music ]

Thanks for visiting The Adventures of SacaKat.
Until next time, enjoy your shelves :-).

I Had Such Friends: #LoveOzYA Review

40530953I Had Such Friends by Meg Gatland-Veness #LoveOzYA
Genre: Contemporary YA
Publication: August 1st 2018
Publisher: Pantera Press
Source: Copy for review from publisher – Thank You.
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Rating: ✵ ✵ ✵ ✵

When Charlie Parker dies, it affects everyone who knew him. Everyone, that is, except for seventeen-year-old Hamish Day, the boy who lives on a cabbage farm and only has one friend. But Hamish soon finds himself pulled into the complicated lives of the people left behind. Among them is Annie Bower, the prettiest girl in school. As he uncovers startling truths about his peers, his perspectives on friendship, love, grief and the tragic power of silence are forever altered.

Meg’s own teaching experience has enabled her to delve deeper into the true nature of a universal high school experience. I Had Such Friends will speak to high school students/teenagers on a personal level, and foster important conversations among Australian youth, school and family culture on issues including abuse, failure and neglect.

With hard-hitting themes including unrequited love, abuse, neglect, sexuality, bullying, prejudice, death and suicide, I Had Such Friends is a poignant journey of self-discovery, grief and the tragic power of silence. A gripping look at adolescent pain with a narrative maturity that accurately reflects its YA milieu, I Had Such Friends resonates with young adult audiences and pushes them to reflect on their own ‘sliding doors’ moment.


Damn, I’ve been struggling with how to review this one.
While I loved parts of it, it also made so super sad.

The story follows Hamish, a self described scrawny farm kid loser who hates farming, during his last year of high school. We journey with Hamish as he discovers his sexuality, self-identity and true friendship. This story is filled with grief, hate, and heartbreaking sadness.

Things I liked:

♥ Going on Hamish’s journey with him.
♥ Hamish’s self confidence and self-worth growing as the story progressed.
♥ Hamish learning how to let people into his heart again.
♥ Hamish figuring out the whole friendship thing and making a lifelong meaningful and healing friend in Annie.
♥ Peter finding comfort, friendship, and someone he could confide in with Hamish.

Things I disliked / made me sad:

I feel Peter should have been able to end up in the flat with Hamish and Annie. He could have done labouring work, while Hamish and Annie attended Uni. The story would have still carried valuable messages, but have left your heart warmed in the end.

I had such friends was a beautiful story and I did really enjoy it, I just feel it doesn’t offer any kind of hope to a person in Peter’s situation. Peter was without a doubt my favourite character in the story. I liked Hamish and Annie. But I loved peter. Even in our much more progressive modern society people in Peter’s situation still do not make it out, that’s why in my mind his character should have.

Who would like this story: Anyone who wants to read something ‘real’ feeling. Anyone wanting a glimpse into queer teenage australia. #LoveOZYA aficionados. #AusQueerYA aficionados. Anyone into ‘day in the life’ style contemporary reads.

Trigger Warnings: child abuse, homophobia, bullying, death and suicide.

I will be keeping an eye out for more books by Meg Gatland-Veness and am keen to read what she writes next.

[ LINKS: Facebook | Goodreads | Pantera | Booktopia | Amazon AU | Amazon US ]

Thanks for visiting The Adventures of SacaKat.
Until next time, enjoy your shelves :-).