A review by Domoni.
I would like to thank the author for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
Zelda has just moved to Sydney. A new school in a new place and the only friend she has is her cousin Antony. Zel is not happy to be leaving New York, which was her home for a year, to return to Australia, but not even the part of Australia where she grew up. Starting over is never easy for a teenager. Leaving behind Prim, her best friend and the first girl she loved, and with so much confusion, has not made it easier. Now she has to balance moving forward and holding on to hope that she can keep Prim in her life.
Zel is 16 and life can be confusing for any sixteen year old. Add in moving to a new place and being gay and you have a perfect storm of emotional turmoil. Even with all of that going on, Zel is a rather level headed girl. She is adapting to her new home and settling into her cousin’s group of drama friends. Focusing on her photography and the project for drama class fills the empty space after school. When she isn’t keeping herself busy, Zel replays her year in New York with Prim. She is struggling with the lack of communication and how much she misses her.
The story jumps between real time and Zel’s memories of New York. It is narrated in first person but in a style where she is suddenly talking to the reader. Though the main story is easy to follow, when she directly addresses the reader it disrupts the flow and pulls me out of her head and into my own. The author has done an amazing job creating the world in which the characters live though. She is description heavy and you can practically smell the Sydney air. Her ability to capture her characters is also on point. Each one has a distinct and developed personality. We get to know Zel’s group of friends at her new school. Antony, Zel’s cousin, who excels at dance and drama. Micheal the tall, neat boy who competes with Antony for the attention of Ashani. Ashani is the bossy, leader type girl who wants to be a director and likes to take control of the group dynamic and lastly, Stella, the quiet dancer, she is always late and somewhat of a mystery to Zel. I fell for Stella from early on. Her absent aloofness to cover a complex life made me want more of her. When her family struggles and her little brother’s autism were mentioned, I wanted much more of her.
Following Zelda as she navigated her emotions for Prim and opened herself to new relationships with Stella and the drama gang was moving. I could have read this book in one sitting if life hadn’t gotten in the way. I kept having to put it down but picked it back up the second I could. Underneath the story of a girl finding her way in the world is the underlying theme of home. It’s seen in the assignments given in school and on the news stories Zelda watches, to the way she tries to find her own place. It makes the reader have to open their eyes to the world around them and their own home. I loved having that societal issue focused on without being the focus. I enjoyed this book.
My rating: 5/5 stars.
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