Hello Darling Readers,
November is Aussie YA month - when we celebrate the best and brightest of Australian young adult literature.
I have a real affinity for young adult literature in general - but it's the YA of my homeland that has a special place in my heart. It's about holding a mirror up, finding a spark and a connection, recognizing a little of yourself in the stories and setting. It's that 'aha!' moment, when you're sure the author is writing about you and yours, the possibility that this story could be set in your hometown and you recognize a character from your own friendship group.
It first happened for me with Melina Marchetta's 'Looking for Alibrandi' - when I first read about a young woman attending a cut-throat all girl's school (like me) in the city and coping with her extended 'wog' family. And since then I have been seeking out that same affinity in my Aussie YA, constantly looking for that 'aha!' spark of connection that draws me into my own land and surroundings, reminds me a little of myself.
I have also been delighted by the many ways that Aussie YA has branched out and embraced other genres. Books like Kirsty Eagar's 'Saltwater Vampires' uses the iconic Australian sun, sand and surf as a horrifically macabre backdrop to an age's old vampire story. Leanne Hall's 'This is Shyness' is a genre-bending novel that blends speculative fiction, urban-fantasy and realism in a brave new Aussie YA. Or that Alison Stewart made the first foray into the popular world of Dystopia with 'Days Like This', turning Sydney into a Fountain of Youth war-zone!
Below is a list I have compiled of my very favourite in Aussie YA, produced by our finest publishing houses (and thank God for them, who understand that Aussie teens need to read beyond the shenanigans of our American/British 'counterparts'!). The list is always growing, I'm always on the hunt for the latest from our sublime home-grown authors.
I love everything about the young adult fiction of my country. I love how brave the authors are, with their genre-bending writings. I love when characters speak in ocker Aussie that surely only us 'in the know' will be able to decipher. I adore beach-settings and especially Melbournian explorations. But most of all I crave that 'aha!' moment, when a mirror is held up and I like what I see, because it's my beloved home.
'Finnikin of the Rock' by Melina Marchetta
'Froi of the Exiles' by Melina Marchetta
'Looking for Alibrandi' by Melina Marchetta
'Saving Francesca' by Melina Marchetta
'The Piper's Son' by Melina Marchetta
'On the Jellicoe Road' by Melina Marchetta
'Swerve' by Phillip Gwynne
'Raw Blue' by Kirsty Eagar
'Saltwater Vampires' by Kirsty Eagar
'Beatle Meets Destiny' by Gabrielle Williams
'The Comet Box' by Adrian Stirling
'Days Like This' by Alison Stewart
'Enticed' by Jessica Shirvington
'Act of Faith' by Kelly Gardiner
'Shift' by Em Bailey
'The Night Creatures' series by Marianne de Pierres