Title: Writing Clementine
Author: Kate Gordon
Length: 192 pages
Published by: Allen and Unwin Australia
Published on: 1st July 2014
Source: received in exchange for review (thank you!!)
You said we could write anything we wanted. The first thing that came into our minds. Blue fish, red fish, green fish…
Clementine Darcy is floundering. She wants to be the kind of a fish who swims to the swish of her own fins – upstream, not simply carried along by the current.
But she is finding the swirling waters of school and home difficult to navigate: her friendship group is splintering, her brother Fergus won’t leave his room, her sister’s life is not as perfect as she thought… And then there’s the New Boy, who is dapper and intriguing, but hiding secrets of his own. Clem is desperate for everyone – including herself – to be happy, but she discovers that her idea of helping doesn’t always work as well as she imagined.
I was worried I wouldn’t like this book. Despite thinking it was a really cute-looking book, and Australian, and the type of thing I usually love, I was worried. It’s quite a SHORT book.
But I shouldn’t have worried. Seriously. I should learn to trust Allen and Unwin, because I swear I love every book they publish.
Moving on. Led by a truly empowering female character, Writing Clementine shows that it’s okay to be who you are. The protagonist of this book, Clementine, was all sorts of awesome. I just wanted to cheer for her the whole time.
There you go. Have some Gryffindors. Here’s what I loved about Clementine:
1) She’s not your usual standard of beautiful, but she still knows she’s pretty. I seriously love this. We need more confident girls like her in main roles, because it shows other girls like her that it’s GREAT to love your body.
2) A guy makes an unwanted advance at her, and she not only tells him off but speaks up about it. This is also something we need more people to know – it’s okay to speak up about these things.
3) She’s forgiving. At the beginning, her friends are your typical shallow cardboard cut-out characters, but they grow to understand each other, and eventually Clementine realises that they had both done stupid things. This is great! Too often, if the main character doesn’t like someone they’re written off as bad people. But here, Clementine was wrong, and I really liked that she could admit that.
Other awesome things included:
– A steampunk club (CAN I JOIN??)
– A quirky, weirdo love interest who was super-polite, and asked for consent, and was a real gentleman
– Letter format that’s easy to read
– A refreshing, honest voice
Have some more excited-ness.
There were only a couple of things I didn’t like. That’s why I didn’t give it five stars (it was very close). I think some of the characters could have developed a bit more. Plus, there were too many C-names. Clementine, our main character, as well as her two friends – both starting with C.
My suspension of disbelief also suffered a little. Clem is writing these letters to her teacher, and I had trouble believing that anyone would write some of those things to a teacher.
Plus, it was quite a short book – I think some of the themes could have been explored in more depth.
But overall, a lovely, lovely read – there’s no way I expected to love this book as much as I did. This is definitely one I will be rereading for its honesty, amazing protagonist and steampunk club.
PS. If you’re wondering why this review looks familiar, it’s because I accidentally published it a month ago after scheduling it wrong!
Rating: 4/5 Wonderkitties