Welcome to our year of reading Oz YA…

So as regular readers might have gleaned from last year, blogging was not quite as easy or as regular (ahem!) as we would’ve liked. So we’ve come up with a brand new idea…we’re going to have our own two-person book club 🙂

Well, it’ll start as just the two of us but we’re hoping all you YA fans out there might join us for a robust discussion (and possibly some ramblings) about one of our greatest passions – reading!

If you’d like to join us in our journey, you can check out the books we’ll be reading each month in the panel on the right.  Please leave us your comments we’d love to hear what you think.

So fasten your seat-belts everyone…first up is Rose’s pick Game Theory by Barry Jonsberg.

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Cloudwish – initial thoughts…

I’m about two-thirds of the way through. I’m enjoying the book but it’s got me thinking a lot about the diversity question. The main character is Van Uoc Phan – a second generation Vietnamese- Australian who lives in housing commission flats in Richmond.

I don’t know a lot about Fiona Wood but judging by the author pic this is a far cry from her own upbringing. And this gives me a slightly ‘icky’ feeling while reading which makes me wonder about how much an author’s identity impinges on the reading experience. On the one hand, surely a literary work should stand on its own merits, but on the other a book by Alice Pung say has that feeling of authenticity and lived experience which makes for a more immersive and possibly enjoyable reading experience.

This is something we’re going to be studying in my editing class at RMIT. Someone is doing a presentation Whose story to tell? How do we tell diverse stories in fiction.  I was talking to one of my peers in the class and she said she was gay and thought it would be ridiculous to think that heterosexual people could not put gay characters in their fiction. But it would require research and sensitivity to create ‘real’ gay characters. This made me stop and think.

Surely, there are multiple examples of people writing characters outside their own experience. I’ve never had a broken leg so does this mean I can never write about a character who has a broken leg? No.

So, it’s a thorny issue that I’m still struggling to get my head around.

But Fiona obviously did her research. Like her character Van Uoc, she volunteered as an English tutor to assist refugees and students who speak English as a second language. This provided the inspiration for Cloudwish.

There’s a wonderful interview with the author on Kids Book Review where she explains:

The story of children of refugee parents is an important one. Things had better not remain incomprehensible to us, or we’re in big trouble as a society. We need to find the empathy required to imagine another person’s story. Fiction is a wonderful route to empathy and understanding.

In creating the backstory for Vân Uóc’s parents, I read many first hand accounts of people who had fled Vietnam following the fall of Saigon, and I spoke to some generous people who made the journey and shared their memories with me. I spent time imagining what it would be like living through such horrors, risking everything in undertaking such a dangerous boat journey for the chance of a better life, and how I would cope if such courage were ever required of me. (Not well, I concluded, as Vân Uóc does, too, when she wonders about the same thing.)   

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The squeaky pig

There’s a squeaky pig in my book group. Let’s call him Fluff (just because).

reading

Book group philosophy!

I’m pretty sure Fluff was my suggestion. One of the quieter members of our group brought it to our notice that some people, ahem, hogged the limelight while the others didn’t get to put across their views. She was particularly disturbed by people talking over each other – something that happens a bit during the frenzy of excitement which is caused when talking about books.

The thing about Fluff is he’s invisible. I just suggested the idea that we needed a ‘squeaky pig’ – the kind you find in the pet aisle at the supermarket – and we could squeak said pig when things got out of hand. So what happens now is, someone starts talking, someone else butts in, a couple of others start a conversation up the other end of the table and before you know it one or more people are yelling ‘SQUEAKY PIG!’

And it works!

Every now and then I see an actual squeaky pig at the supermarket and I’m slightly tempted. Then I think, what a waste of money (yes, I’m a bit of a tight-wad – it’s hereditary).

But I also think something magical would be lost by having an actual object.

So, here’s to Fluff. And, you know, if you have this problem in your writer’s or book group this is an idea that is free to good home. The more Fluffs, the merrier smile

pig

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Pancakes With Abs

This book is part of a genre that Hank Green likes to call, ‘Decapitated YA Fiction Ladies.’ Let me explain using a visual aid;

9abe746104b650b88af2990feaeeab9f

So that’s interesting.

Also hey, hello, hi, I don’t think I’ve greeted you yet. Greeted is a weird word because I associate it with dogs licking people’s faces because it was probably in Jack Russel Dog Detective (a literary masterpiece) and it’s in a sentence from my childhood that will forever be ingrained in my memory and speaking of sentences aren’t run on sentences great? No? Okay.

Speaking of run on sentences I had English today, and we’re doing the thing where it’s the start of the year so you have to write an autobiography so your new teacher can ‘get to know you.’ I have done this literally every year since about grade three.

Dear English Teacher’s,

Mostly, you’re great. But sometimes, you make us do the same thing over and over and over again. Please alter the curriculum slightly from year to year. That would be great.

Also remove all word limits because I am clearly a waffler, look at ALL THIS WAFFLING.

waffles-cartoon

Pumpkins and penguins,

Rose.

So I believe that I was talking about my expectations for Cloudwish by Fiona Wood? Yeah, let’s do that, shall we;

Books with rhetorical questions about absurd sounding things on the back of them usually imply that the absurd sounding thing does indeed happen in the book. Wishes that came true because of magic were not a thing! Were they?

Twenty bucks says a wish comes true because of magic. (I don’t have twenty bucks, so if I’m wrong I’ll find you a meme about waffles worth that much money.)

Other things I can learn from the blurb:

  • ‘Not even Jane Eyre can help her now.’ Welp, back to amazingly well read English student MCs. (This is fine, I love amazingly well read English student MCs. Sorry Jamie, but it’s February and quadratics are out.)
  • The hats on the letters of the MCs name are totally rad, however it makes it slightly impossible to type on this privileged, uncultured keyboard, so the MC will hereby be referred to as the MC.
  • Billy Gardiner. You sound like a love interest. Please have more than two dimensions. Cool thanks.
  • Fiona, your twitter handle has SO MANY UNDERSCORES. Very with the kids, very hip, I applaud you.

Also, I appreciate the pun on the front of  the book.

Okay, I have homework because VCE AAAAAGAHGAHGHGH (I’m fine, nobody panic, just tell me everything you know about the League of Nations in you own words and with a high concentration of polysyllables in the comments).

So byeee.

DFTBA,

❤ Rose.

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