Friday, October 9, 2009

spotlight on my favourites: steven herrick

i have loved every book steven's written, and can't wait for another one. perhaps some time i'll review them all, but for now - my three favourites:

the simple gift (UQP)

told in steven's perfect, poignant free verse, this is the story of 16 year old billy who has escaped his father's house, jumped a train and ended up living in a disused railway carriage, a neighbour to old bill, an alcoholic hobo with a sad past. he spends his days at the public library getting a better education than he ever got at school and passes his nights eating people's leftovers at macdonalds. there he meets caitlin, who works there. caitlin, who is looking for something more than her safe, priviliged life. billy is a beautiful character in this spectacular book about what we need to make us happy, about the small things in life, about friendship and love. it is honestly one of the best books i have ever read.

love, ghosts and nose hair (UQP)

jack is also sixteen. he lives with his father and his sister, spending his time thinking about love (and sex and annabelle), ghosts (his mother, in a red dress) and nose hair (he's paranoid). this is a beautiful verse novel about family and loss, but it is also very funny and touching.

a place like this (UQP)

a companion novel, or sequel, to LGaNH - this is what happens when jack and annabelle finish school and decide to take off for a while. they find themselves working in an apple orchard for a bruised-but-not-broken family. without meaning to j and a become involved in the family's life - constantly cheery, chatty craig who wants to know what j and a do in their shed at night (!!), beck who vomited on the table the night before their mum left, fifteen year old emma, who got pregnant after a party at which she drank too much and passed out...and their dad who is just trying to keep them all going. beautiful.

oh. and i have to mention the hilarious do-wrong ron (allen &unwin)
it's about a boy and his pet guinea pig and friendship, a girl and her guinea pig. laugh out loud funny, with some really touching moments.
i don't know how steven does it, he truly has a magic touch. being able to say so much in so little space, his prose taut and precise, haunting and magic, simple and yet so sophisticated. i've tried to write free verse in the past, and it comes out sounding like i'm just trying to be steven. he's that good he owns the genre.
five stars. always.


  1. I love the Simple Gift. I need to read some of his other novels.


hey anonymousauruses - give yourselves a name. a nom de plume, a nom de blog. it's more fun that way.