Alba, a small town girl with a love for comic books, finishes high school and is nervous about what the future might bring. The town is overrun with hippies when a youtube psychic predicts that it will be the only safe place from the apocalypse, and an old friend turned-minor TV celebrity returns and shakes things up a bit for Alba and her best friend Grady.
Who’s it for?
Unlike The Messenger, I wasn’t on the fence about this, it’s definitely YA. Teen characters, teen themes (family, romantic relationships, identity, life after high school) and a clear teen voice.
Would I recommend it?
This is probably in that awkward middle ground where I wouldn’t go out of my way to suggest it to somebody looking for a good read, but if someone asked me about it I certainly wouldn’t say I disliked it either. It’s in 3 to 3.5 star territory. It really depends on what you are looking for in a book. The storyline itself isn’t particularly captivating and I didn’t fall in love with the characters, but I could relate to them and I remember what that time in my life was like.
Would I teach it?
Probably not. The age group that this would appeal to is in the final few years of high school but I don’t think there’s quite enough there, either in terms of literary technique or philosophical/political/moral content to fill up a whole novel study for grade 10-12 students. It might be suitable for mid-lower ability year 9 or 10 students, but there are other books out there that I’d choose first. For those worried about that sort of thing, there are few references to alcohol, being drunk, and “feck” used in place of “fuck” (what’s the point?). If you are interested in teaching it, there are a couple of activities to use as a starting point here.
I would, however, purchase it for a school library.
I grew up in the city, but I now live in a country town where I teach high school students, so it was interesting to me to see the way the characters fit in to their setting. I don’t think Keil quite captured it (e.g. a town of 300 people that can’t support its own primary school wouldn’t have a main street complete with bakery and fish and chip shop) but I could certainly relate to the “stay or go” division at the end of school as well as the real sense of finality that going to university means saying goodbye to EVERYTHING you know, which just isn’t the case in the city.