Saturday 21 January 2012

Have you seen Ally Queen?

Have you seen Ally Queen? by Deb Fitzpatrick (Fremantle Press)
PB RRP $19.95
ISBN 9-781-921-888-489
Reviewed by Neridah McMullin

Have you seen Ally Queen? is an engaging, realistic and delightful read for teenagers and adults alike.

Ally has been forced to leave her home in Perth (for reasons initially unknown to her) to a sleepy coastal town she likes to refer to as ‘hicksville’; a place full of bogans, surfies and greenies. Bullied at her new school, Ally finds it hard to fit in. Her mum can’t help her as she was a witness to a hit-and-run accident and is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and she isn’t someone Ally can turn to right now. Ally misses how things used to be. She feels like she’s stumbling through her new life, awkward and out of place and completely misunderstood. 

But Ally is a tough nut and eventually she finds her own space and place in the world. She learns to like herself. Ally is funny, quirky and smart and it’s a reminder of the difficulties that teenagers face, particularly teenagers dealing with parents who have their own problems.

This story is fast paced and fun. Fitzpatrick is spot on with her language, using common turns of phrase that are engaging and accessible to teenagers. Her writing voice and narrative is strong and genuine and uniquely written in an Australian cultural and historical context. It’s very cool! The iconic descriptions of the beautiful beaches and surrounding mountains are poetic prose and her description of school camp was delightful. Fitzpatrick’s humour is contagious and shines through her writing. Ally is quick witted and self-effacing but Fitzpatrick avoids the usual clich├ęs of perfect parents and domineering teachers and the input of Miss Carey is wonderful. 

Ally has an inner dialogue with her alter ego Angelgirl and this layering of complexity adds texture and interest in the story line. I have admit to laughing out aloud a couple of times whilst reading this book. (I’m the mother of two teenagers so I knew exactly where Ally was at).This story is written in a distinctive and engaging style and is to be thoroughly recommended to Young Adult readers.

This is Deb Fitzpatrick’s second novel and now I’m going to track down her first book to read! 

Neridah McMullin is the author of three books for children. Her next book is an Indigenous folklore story called 'Kick it to me!'. Neridah loves family, footy, and doing yoga with her cat Carlos (who also happens to love footy too). 

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