Friday, August 13, 2010

review : guitar highway rose

guitar highway rose (allen&unwin), by brigid lowry, was published in 1997.

it is the story of rosie: who lives in perth and is hanging around being fifteen, arguing with her mother, wishing she was older, waiting for her life to begin. it's also the story of asher: a dreadlocked, reluctant byron bay evacuee, come to perth because his parents have separated. theirs is a sweet and quirky friendship and then developing into, possibly, something more. they both love music and secondhand clothes, the ocean and the idea of freedom. asher is unhappy in perth. rosie feels restricted at home. then, when asher is blamed for something he didn't do, the two decide to take a little spontaneous holiday.

i turned fifteen in 1997. guitar highway rose was practically my bible. i read it all the time. i made my friends read it. it got me into allen ginsberg, made me want to run away. it was the reason i bought hippie skirts and bought my doc martens. i wanted to pierce my nose and learn how to play guitar.

reading it again today i wonder if brigid lowry wrote all the little segments at all different times. they appear as lists, or observations on one person or another, or on themself. for example: 'pip and rosie walk to school / monday' and 'what the homeroom teacher said' and 'contents of asher's pockets'. some of them seem like they might have started as exercises in order to develop her characters and setting - what a brilliant idea. lowry has written very, very convincing teenage voices, both rosie and asher. "bloody mother. carrying on and on. silly old bag. wasn't she ever young and fun-loving? anyone would think i'm an axe-murderer or something."

it's only rosie's mum lily who i feel doesn't quite hit the spot for me, her voice coming across as a little bit of a caricature of an overbearing mum. also, the segments in which the characters narrate their thoughts and emotions, and not able to watch and see through a scene, make me feel as though i am being told how to feel.

but, nevertheless it is such a marvellous story, a must-read book. and in spite of a bit of a moral (or compromise) in the end, i think this celebrates a bit of rebellion and adventure, how fifteen is a bitch but it's also exciting and precious and ...i'm so glad i'm not fifteen anymore.


  1. i loved this book so hard when i was a teen too :) and my mates loved it and we all wanted to be rose, haha.

    great review :)

    i own this and re-read it this year too - it's such a unique book and i love that about it...

    1. that sounds like a great idea reading a book every year helps you see a different perspective each time! Will try that!

  2. I LOVE Brigid, all her work. EVERYTHING!

    Follow The Blue was what got me in first, yet I keep coming back for more!

    Have you read her others?

  3. I loved this book too, but I haven't read any of her other books. Maybe I should!

  4. follow the blue is good too, but i think guitar highway rose is definitely my favourite, it is a bit of a classic.
    i like this review! i also am very glad i am not fifteen anymore and am not likely to be so ever again.

  5. i knew i would not be alone in my love for this one!

    i've read all her books, including the how-to-write and the short stories. i really liked them, but guitar highway rose was the first, and will always be my favourite. i think it's her best.

    peace out all you ladies who love guitars and highways and roses. xx

  6. hahaha I had to read it for school and write an essay on it for our assessment, and I hated it :) But do you know any good quotes in the story that I can use ??


  7. i am 14 and in yr.9 and my english teacher recommend me this book because she read it when she was my as well. I don't really get engaged by many books but with this one i certainly did. I would definitely read it again sometime. Overall i think this book is really good and just set my mind in a different place and it didn't bore me one single bit. P.S The end was quite unexpected :'( so you MUST read!

  8. I read half this book as teenager and kind of forgot it.

    I found it and read it again as an adult 10 eyars later, i am glad that I did not read it as a teenager the allure of freedom may have meant that I would have wnated to follow in Rose and Asher's footsteps!
    Though I have to admit as an adult I have a nose ring, am in love with a musician -a guitarist and am studying to be an artist!!!

    1. I only half read it as I was busy trying to focus on school and my mum yelled at me for read this book!!! hahaha

  9. This is a really good review. Very descriptive. Thank you !!


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