Book Review: It’s about love by Steven Camden

It's about love (1)

I have to say that based on the title and the cover,  I would have never read this book.  However, the girls in my student book club convinced me to read it and I really have to thank them – it’s great.  This book oozes menace and tension and from the beginning, the reader is gripped by the fear of what has happened in the past and what that will bring to play in the present.

This is a coming of age story that is difficult to label.  The reader is warned about this complexity of plot and theme in chapter 1 when, Luke the protagonist of the novel, debates the central premise of his favourite movie with a girl in his film class.

“It’s a love story, you know …..

No it’s not”

“Course it is,” she says, “Not a conventional one, but it’s a story about love.”

The fact that she’s even seen it make me like her, but it’s not a love story.

It’s about revenge,” I say. (p.11)

The characterisation of Luke, the protagonist, is a strength of the novel.  As a reader, you really like him but are often puzzled and devastated by his inability to articulate his feelings and his poor reactions to people and situations.  Steven Camden has mastered the ability to bring the gritty reality of the tough neighborhoods of Bearwood, Birmingham where Luke lives into focus. Luke is a “fish out of water” when he starts at film school on the other side of town.  At home, the return of his brother from prison is the catalyst for family and neighborhood tensions that will climax on the night of Luke’s 17th birthday.The author also uses an interesting structural device in this novel by interspersing the story with fragments of hand-written notes describing snippets of memories, thoughts and dreams.  Additionally, he also uses small inserts that read like film directions or play scripts. Together with countless references to modern films, this structural device compliments the central motif of film study.

The author also uses an interesting structural device in this novel by interspersing the story with fragments of hand-written notes describing snippets of memories, thoughts and dreams.  Additionally, he also uses small inserts that read like film directions or play scripts. Together with countless references to modern films, this structural device compliments the central motif of film study.

I highly recommend this book for YA readers who love gritty reality, love stories, character books and movies.

One last thing …. This book is full of great quotes, here are three of my favourites:

“Because nobody’s one thing, Lukey.  You make a person one thing and you’ll miss out on everything else that they are.  That they could be. And they’ll always let you down.”

 

“I repeat the words in my head. Whoever’s writing this script is giving all the best lines to everyone else.”

 

“You are what people think you are.  You make a reputation, then it makes you.”

 

Book review: One life: My mother’s story by Kate Grenville

One Life: My Mother's StoryOne Life: My Mother’s Story by Kate Grenville

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Written from fragments of memoir and some recorded interviews, Kate Grenville’s book outlines the event’s of her mother, Nance Russell’s life. It follows Nance from her birth in 1912 through childhood days growing up days, across the space of two world wars and the Great Depression and into the new millennium when she passed away in 2002.

This book is an intimate portrait of the life of Nance who was typical of her time in many ways and ahead of her time in others. Like many women, family came first for Nance. She craved her family through her childhood and early adult life as she made her way through an education and training that took her away from home. Unlike many women of the time, Nance earned a qualification as a pharmacist and became an independent career woman. This too would take her from her young family at times when she herself had children. This is a terrific story of a woman that many of us can identify with despite the different times and life opportunities because we feel that dual pull of family and career, the particular joys and turmoils of relationships and the balance between looking after others yet sticking up for yourself at the same time. This is articulated in Nance’s wonderings:

“Yes, she wanted to meet someone, get married, have children. She wanted to be happy. But she knew now that she
wanted something else as well.”

I found the book to be a beautifully told story that read like a novel. I was completely caught up in Nance’s story and particularly the struggles she felt within relationships. I would highly recommend this book to any working woman in Australia.

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