2018 YA Showcase – #LoveOzYA highlights

The YA Showcase is a speed-dating session of sorts, where publishing house reps woo young and old YA fans alike with their most anticipated YA for the New Year. Run by the Centre for Youth Literature, the annual event continues to be a sell-out year after year. While international titles were once again showcased this year, I’m going to focus on my most anticipated LoveOzYA titles. Here, in no particular order, are my top 10 most anticipated #loveOzYA reads for 2018:

GrowingUpAboriginal

 

Growing up Aboriginal in Australia
Edited by Anita Heiss
Black Inc
April 2018

A collection of non-fiction stories from Aboriginal writers, including Ambelin Kwaymullina and Celeste Liddle. Childhood stories of family, country and belonging.

 

 

The Art of Taxidermy
Sharon Kernot
Text Publishing
July 2018

A verse novel about a young girl grieving for her mother finds comfort in her fascination with taxidermy. I’ve been craving a good verse novel (bring on Maxine Beneba Clarke’s YA verse novel!), and taxidermy peaked my quirky interests. This novel was shortlisted for the 2017 Text Prize.

 

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Tin Heart
Shivaun Plozza
Penguin Books
March 2018

Frankie was Shivaun’s sharp, raw, hilarious and uplifting debut novel. I’m ridiculously excited to read her second novel, Tin Heart, which was pitched as a novel that explores identity, survival, family and an unlikely friendship/romance.

 

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Neverland
Margot McGovern
Penguin Books
April 2018

An edgy, dark read for older readers, Neverland explores how we misremember and romanticise the past. For fans of Fairytales for Wilde Girls, Our Chemical Hearts, On the Jelicoe Road and We Were Liars. The pitch had me at ‘edgy, dark…’.

 

 

Small Spaces
Sarah Epstein
Walker Books
April 2018

We don’t pick and choose what we are afraid of. A psychological thriller about a gruesome imaginary friend, a mute girl and dark secrets.

 

The Rift
Rachael Craw
Walker Books
November 2018

Okay, so Rachael isn’t Australian, but it’s fair to say we’ve claimed her as one of our own. The Rift is a dual-narrative fantasy promising action and ample swoonage. I loved Craw’s Spark trilogy, which was packed with suspense, humour and tenderness, so I am pumped for her next offering.

 

Catching Teller Crow
Ambelin and Ezekiel Kwaymullina
Allen & Unwin
August 2018

I was captivated by The Interrogation of Ashala Wolfso I am eager to see Ambelin’s next offering. Catching Teller Crow, which she co-wrote with her brother Ezekiel, explores sexualised violence against Indigenous girls, and how hope lies in the hearts and hopes of First Nations women.

 

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White Night
Ellie Marney
Allen & Unwin
March 2018

A secret off-the-grid community in rural Australia. Intriguing cult elements. I’m all for the “do not judge a book by its cover” adage, but IT’S SO PRETTY! Also, cults!

 

 

LIFEL1K3
Jay Kristoff
Allen & Unwin
May 2018

What does it mean to be human? Set in post-apocalyptic USA, the robotic population have been reduced to slaves and androids (robots that look like humans) have been outlawed. Eve and her best friend, Lemon, find an android in a scrapheap who knows the truth behind a robotic revolt.  Oh, and Eve discovers that she can destroy robotics with her mind.

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Whisper
Lynette Noni
Pantera Press
May 2018

The first in a new series, Jane Doe has been locked away and experimented on for two years. Her resolve begins to crack under the influence of her new evaluator, forcing her to question and uncover the truth about the program. An exclusive advanced reader copy was given out to all YA Showcase attendees, so I am one happy camper.

Review: ‘The Protected’ by Claire Zorn

TheProtected

‘I’m pretty sure you’re not allowed to wear a two-inch heel to school, Katie.’
     ‘Oh yeah, and where are you going in those Clarks, Hannah? The nunnery?’
      ‘At least I don’t look like a prostitute. And they’re not called nunneries, they’re called convents.’
     ‘You’d know, you’re still going to be a virgin when you’re thirty.’
      ‘You’ll probably be dead before you’re thirty.’

The Protected is narrated by Hannah, who, at fifteen years of age, is struggling to come to terms with the sudden death of her sister, Katie. The novel explores a variety of heavy issues, including anxiety, bullying, and grief. By having Hannah alternate between talking about life before Katie died (school bullying and Katie’s complete unwillingness to intervene due to the risk of ruining her own reputation) and after Katie’s death (Hannah trying to work out where she stands at school due to all her bullies now avoiding her, while also being suspect of approaches of friendship made by a new student, Josh Chamberlin), an emotional balance is maintained which prevents the book from descending into an unrelenting depressive state without compromising on the integrity of the gritty material.

The characters are well-developed and the relationships are complex and realistic. Hannah can’t seem to do anything to garner kinship from her sister, which makes any slither of kindness or understanding from Katie all the more profound. Having said that, Hannah does not compromise her own convictions (or magically gain the ability to overcome her fears) just to appease her sister. Hannah’s parents are, for the most part, hapless and too preoccupied to do what is right to support Hannah, but they do offer moments of tenderness when least expected. Josh is endearing and intriguing, his humour offering much needed comedic relief without putting him risk of becoming a comedic trope. If anything, the only issue I had was the abundance of male characters starting with the letter “J” (Josh, Jensen, Jared.  Okay, there are only three, but I had to flick back a few times to make sure I wasn’t getting confused.)

The complexity of the relationships exemplifies the complexity of grief – it is never a clear-cut process of mourning the loss of an individual, as relationships are multifaceted. Hannah’s experience with grief, and her moments of high anxiety, are delicately depicted. The greatest appeal of The Protected is that it presents an array of issues without providing any singular character or event to neatly resolve them. The ending is one of the most satisfying of any book I have ever read.

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