Monday, July 31, 2017

[Review] Love-shy by Lili Wilkinson

Publication (dd/mm/yyyy): 01/04/2012
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Pages: 309
Source: Publisher
Genre: YA {Contemporary}

Violence | Sexual Content | Profanity

Book Tunes

My Rating
My thoughts

I am admittedly quite a shallow person and therefore tend to judge books based on their cover. I was given the impression that Love-shy would be a tweeny, very light-hearted book about romance, and to me that just didn't sound all that appealing. So I put it off. The only reason why I have finally picked it up is because there was a book event coming up which the author, Lili Wilkinson, was attending. I am honestly so glad that I did read this book because it was a fun and quick and really interesting read, and certainly not just for tweens at all.

Love-shy is part-mystery, part-romance, and a whole lot of other things in between. Penny Drummond, 16 years old, wants nothing more than to be a top-notch journalist in the future - the best of the best, re-shaping the very name and nature of journalism just like her role model and inspiration Nellie Bly. A model Year 10 student, her extra-curriculars include SRC, swim team (where she is the best swimmer), debate team (they always win because of her), writer at the school newspaper, The East Glendale Secondary College Gazette (her stories always make the front page) and First Oboist at the school orchestra. One day at the library, she discovers someone has visited a website for the Love-shy and just like that, she has her next big story.

Penny is highly ambitious, driven, confident, seemingly unafraid of anything. She was also extremely elitist and looked down on others, constantly comparing herself to others. It could have been grating, but I found myself able to at least enjoy following her story. By the halfway point I was already reading in Paris Geller's (from Gilmore Girls) voice - they are like the exact same person! While they are both no-nonsensical and quite serious, it was entertaining and almost comical, some of the situations they get themselves into. So while I didn't LIKE Penny, I was able to tolerate her and sympathise with her somewhat - when you're at the top there's pressure to maintain that perfection, but she's only human in the end.

I adored the mystery aspect, the method used by Penny was just hilarious! I loved reading the interviews, and it just seemed so ridiculous! When Penny finally meets the Love-shy boy, she starts to think of ways to fix him. It was all just so much fun, I was grinning from ear to ear with every embarrassing moment, every awkward encounter. Let it be known that while Penny does NOT have any problems with speaking to the opposite sex, she has no tact when it comes to talking to others in general. Nor has she any real relationship experience, so when she gets a crush things just turn disastrous!

I loved Penny's dad! He was the absolute best book dad ever. After he came out as gay, Penny's mum moved away to Perth for work (or so she says), so it's just been the two of them. Her dad is just so supportive and really cute and a bit quirky, and when his boyfriend starts to enter the picture too they're just adorable together! Additionally, Penny has a decidedly strained relationship with her mum, and I liked their development.

The romance aspect was just crazy! I just went along for the ride. I liked following this top-student's slow descent as she realises that she has become too invested in her subject (aka. Love-shy boy) for the story: she wags school and daydreams during classes, gets disqualified from the swimming relay race, etc, etc. 

I also have to add that I liked the reference to The Secret Garden in this book. I liked the comparison between Penny and Love-shy boy, and the "bossy girl" and the "scared boy" in the well-known classic.

One thing I didn't like was Rin. Not her in general, but the fact that she is Japanese. The scene in which she speaks Japanese to her mum was cringe-worthy to me, because it was WRONG. And also unnecessary. (Note: I thought 「こちらはペンニです。Kochira wa Penny desu.」 (NO HONORIFIC?!)  and 「 がっこうのともだち Gakkou no tomodachi」 were a bit awkward to say, not sure how fluent Rin is with her Japanese, but I have to assume that she speaks Japanese to her mum normally if that's how she spoke to her mum to introduce her new friend...?) Her mum speaks English to Penny, so why couldn't Rin just have spoken in English instead? I felt like she was made to be Japanese just so there would be some diversity. Not many people would care about this, but it annoyed me hahah.

Love-shy ends on a positive and hopeful note. Penny learns to drop her guard down a little bit more, and stop pushing people away. She might even have found the perfect guy for her, who loves her driven, confident and bossy personality. The one thing that felt unrealistic was the resolution with the Love-shy boy, and how quickly it seemed that he had conquered his issues with anxiety. Otherwise, it was a satisfying and cute ending. I liked that Penny becomes a more approachable and open person by the end of the book and therefore much more likeable.

I would recommend Love-shy for readers who are in the mood for a fun and quick mystery that also addresses some deeper issues.


First lines:

"I found a story.
Before I joined the team, our school newspaper couldn't really be called a newspaper. It wasn't fit for wrapping fish, and not just because it wasn't printed with organic inks on unbleached paper. The typical headline was generally something like SOCCER TEAM TRIUMPHS AT REGIONALS or YEAR ELEVEN ADVENTURES AT ULURU. Nobody was interested in serious journalism. Except for me.

"I had to . . . show him that he could grow and flower in the outside world. That it was tough for everyone out here, but because we could work together and draw strength from each other, we could grow bigger and better and brighter than we ever could if we stayed inside our little glass globes. (290)

AUSTRALIA: A&R | Boomerang Books

INTERNATIONAL: Abe Books | Book Depository | Wordery

I have received this review copy in return for an honest review.

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