Monday, September 20, 2010

Girl Saves Boy - Steph Bowe

The Facts
Author: Steph Bowe
Publisher: Text Publishing
Publication Date: 30th August, 2010
Length: 280 pages

The Fiction
From Text Publishing: The first time we met, Jewel Valentine saved my life.
Isn’t it enough having your very own terminal disease, without your mother dying?
Or your father dating your Art teacher?
No wonder Sacha Thomas ends up in the lake that Saturday evening…But the real question is: how does he end up in love with Jewel Valentine? With the help of quirky teenage prodigies Little Al and True Grisham, Sacha and Jewel have a crazy adventure, with a little lobster emancipation along the way.
But Sacha’s running out of time, and Jewel has secrets of her own.

Like I'm sure a lot of you are, I've been a fan of Steph's blog Hey! Teenager of the Year for quite a while, and have been following the excitement leading up to the publication of Girl Saves Boy. Needless to say, I was very happy for Steph when it was released (and went to five different book shops on release day, only to find none had any copies in stock!).

Anyway, to the book - after all the excitement, I was not disapointed! Girl Saves Boy is a quite a lovely and very heartfelt young adult novel. The narrative alternates between Sasha and Jewel (c'mon, by now surely you all know how much I love this style) as theynavigate their way through a myriad of problems - of both the regular teenager variety, as well as some which are potentially more life changing. There's also romance, garden-nome theft, school fetes and lobster liberation. Steph crafts some incredibly evocative images (the one which stuck with me involves Sasha and Jewel making an inside tent with a couch, sheets and a bottle of wine).

Both protagonists are engaging and their chapters enjoyable to read. I must admit it took me a little while to warm to Jewel - I think it's because she's quite profound and makes some subtle-yet-amazing observations that kind of impress me and make me feel wow. Sacha reminded me a bit of Asher from Guitar Highway Rose, in the nicest possible way. I think it's that he's quite gentle and lovely, but you also get the sense of anger coming through. Steph also shows a skill for dialogue, and creates two distinctive voices through her leads, and her writing has just the right mix of wry observation and banter.

I have to say that I was also very fond of the sidekicks - amazingly tall and equally smart Little Al and the meticulously-organized and highly ambitious True Grisham. Little Al  in particular, was a favourite of mine - with his loud yet so loveable M-named family (like a smaller, Australian version of the Duggars with less religion and just a bit bogan). I thought their own plotlines were well-weaved throughout the narrative - even if at times I wanted more (only because I'm greedy like that).

The plot, at times, seemws to float around a bit - though not unpleasantly. I felt like their wasn't a major sense of urgency and that things were going to unravel and subsequently sort themselves out in time, which they did and I had a sense of satisfication at it's conclusion. There was also (in my opinion) a successful balance of introverted thought, emotive flashbacks and moments of sweetness and fun.

Girl Saves Boy is a quirky and charming debut novel from a promising young author. It's a funny and very smart story about teenagers, by a talented young author. Steph's writing is fresh, insightful and certainly captures the energy and emotion of youth. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what Steph does next, and would love to read more of her work - Girl Saves Boy is surely the start of a promising writing career.

For those in Melbourne, Steph Bowe will be appearing at the Wheeler Centre's Debut Monday on September 27th. Go here for more information.


Nomes said...

great job with this review! I felt the smae way as you but you wrote about it so eloquently! And I thought it was reminiscent of Guitar Highway Rose too, haha. (even the name is similar Asher and sacha).

really well reviewed.

Girl Friday said...

Awww thanks Nomes! Yes - I felt there was a lot of similarities with GHR - even with Rosie and Jewel to an extent, in a really good way :)

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