Don’t be misled by the cover or the quality of the paper, both of which suggest dire slit-your-wrists emo pulp. Fall For Anything is a really well-written young adult novel: smart and moving – with a bit of a mystery thrown in. Eddie is still reeling from her photographer father’s suicide two months earlier and her mum is not keeping it together at all. Milo is Eddie’s best friend and there’s perhaps, maybe, a frisson between the two, but the girl who was his girlfriend is back in town. Then Eddie falls in with a gorgeous young photographer, who was her dad’s protégé and who might hold the answer as to why Eddie’s dad killed himself. The dialogue is brilliant, especially between Eddie and Milo (sometimes I wonder about the guys in YA, they are always way too cool and unbelievable...Milo is very real, but still a little bit perfect) and the novel as a whole isn't too sentimental or cheesy, when you consider its premise.
(Oh, and we really like Courtney Summers, she’s a 22-year-old Canadian author who works as a cleaner to support herself so she can write.)
A Pocketful of Eyes, Lili Wilkinson (A&U)
A taxidermist-in-training, Bee works at the Natural History Museum and arrives at work one day to learn her boss and mentor has been found dead in the Red Rotunda room—an apparent suicide. Bee doesn’t believe it. In fact she is convinced it was murder. Like a teenage Agatha Christie, or an indie Nancy Drew, Bee is determined to find Gus’ killer. This book is a lark, immediately engaging and very, very funny... read the rest of my review at the Fancy Goods blog, or in the April edition of Bookseller+Publisher magazine.
The Dead I Know, Scot Gardner (A&U)
Aaron has left school and The Dead I Know opens on his very first day as assistant to funeral director John Barton; Aaron is uncommunicative, but willing to work. Though confronted by the dead bodies, he still takes to his new employ with little trouble and his capability surprises Mr Barton. But at home, Aaron’s life is fraught, to say the least. He lives at the caravan park and is the sole carer for his guardian Mam. But Mam is becoming confused, having accidents and forgetting how to do the simplest things. Aaron sleepwalks at night, waking up further and further from his bed and getting himself into trouble with the volatile and angry Westy, whose vulgarity and violence is very frightening. The descriptions of the dead bodies and preparations for the funerals are realistic to the point of being a little disturbing, but there’s nothing vulgar about the way Gardner has approached this story. The characters are very respectful of the dead. Scot Gardner, author of Gravity, Happy as Larry and the wonderful Burning Eddy, writes novels for teenagers that are always extremely accomplished and though dark, yet totally uplifting. The Dead I Know is no exception – it offers a special glimpse into a job, into an aspect of life that is very different and strange and, in Aaron, an inspirational character.
A version of this review also appeared in the April edition of Bookseller+Publisher magazine.