Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Review: Pink by Lili Wilkinson

Dear blog,
Summary (from Goodreads): Ava Simpson is trying on a whole new image. Stripping the black dye from her hair, she heads off to the Billy Hughes School for Academic Excellence, leaving her uber-cool girlfriend, Chloe, behind.
Ava is quickly taken under the wing of perky, popular Alexis who insists that: a) she's a perfect match for handsome Ethan; and b) she absolutely must audition for the school musical.
But while she's busy trying to fit in -- with Chloe, with Alexis and her Pastel friends, even with the misfits in the stage crew -- Ava fails to notice that her shiny reinvented life is far more fragile than she imagined.

Review: This is one of those books that totally proves why you shouldn't judge a book by its cover.  I was expecting this to be a light, fluffy sort of novel.  But it was so much more than that.  Although Pink is pretty lighthearted in a lot of ways, I quite enjoyed that: it was pretty refreshing to read a LGBTQ novel which isn't just about the protagonist coming to terms with their sexuality, coming out etc. A lot of the YA novels I read about sexual identity are pretty heavy going, which I do understand, but the general take on Ava being a lesbian in Pink seemed quite...relaxed, if that makes sense.

Ava already has a long-term girlfriend, but she's actually wondering if she's not gay.   She likes the colour pink, things haven't been going so well with her girlfriend Chloe of late and she doesn't see the appeal with hanging out with their edgy radical friends anymore.  She was an entirely likeable character for all her flaws, and I think that absolutely anyone could relate to her in one way or another. I'm sure everyone at some point in their life wants to be different, wants to fit in with the right crowd.  Throughout the book Ava made a lot of mistakes in her attempts to be accepted. She could be pretty selfish and thoughtless at times, and although I often facepalmed at her actions, I still totally understood why she did the things that she did.

The thing I loved best about this book by far was the characters.   Except Chloe.  Although I had high hopes for her when Ava mentioned she read Anaïs Nin (because anyone who likes Anaïs Nin is generally an awesome person in my book), alas that was not to be. She was mean.  Her remarks to Ava were so cutting and bitter I had a hard time understanding why the two of them were still going out.  Anyway, in the respect that she was totally three-dimensional and believable, yes, she was a good character. All the supporting characters were good.  Seriously, how do Australian authors do this?!  Jaclyn Moriarty and Margaret Wild have the most incredible cast of characters as well, and they both live Down Under.  It must be all that sunshine.

The Pastels were, again, characters I disliked, but were totally believable.  It's like Lili Wilkinson has gone into a school with a video camera, filmed everyone's comings and goings and then broadcast them on a giant outdoor television screen. Everything feels exposed, from the settings to the character dynamics.
Also, the Stage Crew, i.e Screws. They are awesome, although in their anti-Glee win and discarding of pecking order in their school, they made me feel slightly guilty for  being one of those people who loves singing on stage, and whose only pair of high heels is a pair of character shoes.  Still, reading the scenes with all their highly entertaining banter and trivia, it feels like you're painting the sets with them or half-asleep at the movie marathon (by the way, that was one of my favourite scenes in the whole book). 

 So, if the rest of Lili Wilkinson's books are as awesome as Pink, I'll definitely be reading more of her novels in the future.

In Three Words: light-hearted, excellent, refreshing.
Reccommended for: Anyone who's willing to see past the bright pink cover.
Rating: 4.5

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