!top 5 aussie YA books of the year! (disclaimer: in my own opinionated opinion)
loving richard feynman by penny tangey (UQP)
catherine is 15 and she's got a mega crush. on a physicist who, in the 40s, helped to build atomic bombs. so yes, catherine is a bit different from the other people at her school. but she says: "i suppose i could be more popular if i tried harder. but i don't want to pretend to care about facile television shows, eyeliner and who in year ten is on the pill." i think catherine is a rad character, so clever and so so so funny (seriously, she could give georgia nicholson - from angus thongs - a run for her money!). this book takes the form of her letters to the scientist over the course of one year, during which she slowly reads feynman's autobiography surely you're joking, mr feynman! and during which her life starts to come apart at the seams. writing to feynman helps her cope with all the problems she faces. this book deserves a lot of attention. come and get it!
when the hipchicks went to war by pamela rushby (lothian/hachette)
i reviewed this one awhile ago here. i love historical fiction, especially ones written for teenagers and especially when they deal with different aspects of a history we know quite well, parts of a war we tend not to focus on - and when women get their stories told!
beautifully written, sad and moving story about skip, a young boy who runs away from his abusive foster family only to find himself a victim of war. though she doesn't specify, i get the feeling that millard has set her war in melbourne. skip and bill, the old homeless man he meets, find themselves caring for little max who was safe in the library when bombs started falling but who is still waiting for his mum to come and get him. the trio head out on foot along the tram line to an abandoned fun park where they meet the teenage mum tia and baby sixpence. glenda millard's characters are always spectacular and poignant and these are no exception. the way she approaches the war is so well done, so brutal but brilliant. and there's always hope in her voice.
when john "beatle" lennon meets destiny mccartney you could forgive him for thinking that it was fate...err...destiny maybe. and if it was fate then what's the harm in taking her for ice cream and for a beer. or two. and is it really so wrong to kiss her? and maybe going on a picnic together the next day? perhaps it is a bit wrong when you consider beatle's lovely and faithful girlfriend. this is a riotously fun book with a pair of very real, engaging and not always well-behaved characters and a brilliant support cast. there are twists and turns, laughs and tears, eccentric families and a great (read: bizarre) stalking storyline. it's very melbourne and all kinds of awesome.
from the author of deadly, unna and nukkin ya this is very different. hugh is a cello-playing private schoolboy from sydney with a secret obsession for muscle cars. an old hippie man with a long ponytail has been hanging out the front of his school, trying to talk to him. it turns out he's hugh's grandfather - long estranged from the family - and he's got a proposition. poppy wants hugh to drive them to uluru in his '69 monaro. hugh falls in love with the car instantly, plus he wants to get his hours up (he's still on his Ls) and not even the audition in a week's time at the conservatorium can stop him. hugh is totally out of his comfort zone with poppy and away from his posh sydney life. with poppy he has to mingle with rough types of people and is confronted by the girls he constantly refers to as 'skanks'. predictably, things don't go to plan on the road. there's the hitchhikers manifesto, which dictates they must pick up all hitchhikers: not always a great idea, there's the runaway and then the psycho... but they meet some great people at truck stops and they camp in swags off the beaten track (checking into the million star motel!) and they wrestle with the powerful car, which remains the main character in the book. this is a moving and funny novel.