2012 REVIEWS: YOUNG ADULT #5

GETTING OVER GARRETT DELANEY
Author: Abby McDonald
Candlewick Press RRP $29.95
Review: Monique Mulligan 

Author Abby McDonald has served up an enjoyable read with Getting Over Garrett Delany, a young adult read with just the right amount of lightheartedness and wisdom.

Sadie is smart, seventeen and in love with Garrett Delaney, her best friend. Sadly, blue-eyed Garrett is oblivious to Sadie’s feelings (although since he’s a rather narcissistic character, I sometimes wondered if he really was); to him, she’s the ever-present buddy who shares his taste in everything from tragic Russian literature to art films to 80s indie rock. As the book starts, Sadie is counting the days until she and Garrett leave for a summer literary camp – she’s convinced he will finally see her as his Great Love. What she doesn’t count on is her camp application being rejected, leaving her at home and Garrett away for six weeks.

With her trademark optimism, Sadie decides “absence makes the heart grow fonder” – a concept that is dashed within days when Garrett calls to tell her he’s in love again (“I know I’ve said this before…but she’s the one”). Forced to accept that her love is doomed to remain unrequited, Sadie decides that enough is enough. It’s time to get over him for good. Time for a twelve-step program, self-help book or detox…whatever will get Garrett out of her system. Time to reinvent herself and find out who she really is and ask, “What if I have no regular life apart from the one I constructed around him?”.

Over the summer, Sadie finds a barista job, an eclectic crew of new friends, rekindles her friendship with former best friend Kayla and learns more about herself than she thought possible in such a short time. With her friends’ help, she might just be able to put Garrett behind her…or will she? And what about Josh, the hunky chef Sadie’s working with?

This is a fun, feel-good read that will appeal to teen girls everywhere – who hasn’t had to get over an unrequited crush? I liked the cameo reference to teen parody Clueless – it made me think of Cher’s crush on cultured, fashion-loving new boy Justin (who she is mortified to realise is gay), when all the while a hunky college boy called Josh is nurturing a crush on Cher… and of course, clueless is the theme of this book. Garrett is supposedly clueless to Sadie’s love, Sadie is clueless about herself…

From a characterisation viewpoint, Sadie was easy to relate to because she epitomised every teen’s search for identity. I wanted her to get over Garrett – I certainly didn’t think he was ‘all that’ (too pretentious, fake, egocentric), even if he was supposed to be really cute. I wanted her to be with someone who appreciated her independence and wit for what it was – not as someone who bolstered Garret’s already high opinion of himself.

I read this in one sitting – it’s an easy and fast-paced read with a worthy message – be yourself. As an adult reader, it has a lovely nostalgic feel (“I remember when…”); I think teens will find it romantic, funny and empowering by turns.

Available from good bookstores and Walker Books Australia. This copy was courtesy of Walker Books.


JUMPING OFF SWINGS

Author: Jo Knowles
Candlewick Press RRP $29.95

Review: Monique Mulligan 

Ellie remembers how the boys kissed her. Touched her. How they begged for more. And when she gave it to them, she felt loved. For a while anyway.

So when Josh, an eager virgin with a troubled home life, leads her from a party to the backseat of his van, Ellie follows. But their one-time thing is far from perfect: Ellie gets pregnant. Josh reacts with shame and heartbreak, while their confidantes, Caleb and Corinne, deal with their own complex swirl of emotions.

Remember jumping off swings when you were a child? Swinging higher and higher and then, if you were brave like me, jumping off as the swing arched upward? Do you remember when you stopped jumping off swings – or getting on one? Adolescence is a bit like jumping off a swing for the last time – it’s a time when childhood and innocence is gradually left behind. Aimed at young adults, Jumping Off Swings is a sensitive coming-of-age story that explores this loss of innocence from four different perspectives.Teen pregnancy is nothing new. Neither are the double standards applied to high school sex – girls can’t sleep around, but boys can – or the ‘girl uses sex to feel loved’ scenario. The point of difference for this book is the use of multiple voices to demonstrate the impact Ellie and Josh’s encounter has not only on them, but on others around them. And it’s well enough done; it makes the point that all decisions have flow-on effects, without judgement, a critical aspect for teens. I can see that teens aged 14 to 16 would relate well to this.

It’s a short, easy read and has the potential for discussion about choices, consequences, family relationships, reproductive rights and safe sex.

Available from good bookstores or Walker Books.  This copy was courtesy of Walker Books.