ERIN GOUGH – Amelia Westlake
“Bios are bullshit.”
For my next ‘quickie’ book review I bring to you a former winner of the coveted Hardie Grant Egmont award, the Ampersand Prize, and with it her second book, Amelia Westlake.
Will Everhart and Harriet Price couldn’t be any more different. Will goes against the mainstream, battling against the establishment as much as she does symmetrical haircuts, while Harriet is the picture perfect high-achieving student, as blonde as she is bouncy on the tennis courts.
A sudden shared goal brings them together to shed light on some unfair treatment being dished out at their prestigious all-girls school.
But they need a ruse, and they can’t use their real name… enter their personal work of fiction, Amelia Westlake, a so-called student at Rosemead Grammar.
It’s a high school whodunnit, only we know whodunnit and we’re waiting for the penny to drop for the powers that be. I love being part of the know. And they go from girls barely able to stand each other, to working well together, to really working well together!
Gripes: Very few, this book was superbly written and grabbed me at every chapter. Minor things like a Nancy Drew/Jessica Fletcher type reveal when the secret is revealed and we get a massive info dump, kind of made me cringe, if only a little.
Continuity piqued my interest when Harriet needs to look up Will’s house address from the school contact list, but the thing is, she’s already been there. Compare pages 192 and 236. I’m a stickler for details.
Pros: This book has so much character. Will and Harriet are so varied in their life, personalities and styles, that it’s impossible to believe you will love them both… and yet you do, so so much. This YA explores so many teenage issues and topics of class, race, same-sex relationships, discrimination, and world issues, while maintaining that really teen-centric vibe and keeping it light and on the pulse all the way through. Very current, and very diverse. I can see the lengths gone to tie up every possible loose end, and the work apparent in doing that makes me stand up and do a standing ovation.
Also, Gough’s ability to write herself out of difficult situations without relying on the deus ex machina, is impressive indeed. I was scratching my head thinking, how will she get from here, to there?
But she did.
One more quote, I can’t leave it at just one.
“Star signs are a loud of crap, but I’m willing to bet she’s a Leo.”
Must read for context. 🤣🤣