Sunday 1 July 2012

Holier Than Thou

Holier Than ThouHolier Than Thou by Laura Buzo (Allen and Unwin)
PB RRP $17.99
ISBN 978-1-74175-998-3
Reviewed by Ann Harth (

Holier Than Thou is a journey through a difficult time in the life of a strong, young woman who has learned to hold her emotions in an iron grip. The death of her father, a demanding job and the confusion of a solid relationship threatened by temptation, combine to take 23-year-old Holly to the brink of despair.

Holly Yarkov is smart, funny and real. Even as she is tormented with pain from her past and the uncertainty that comes with making decisions about the rest of her life, the core of her character is consistent and strong.

Laura Buzo’s experience as a social worker is evident in her realistic portrayal of Holly’s work which adds a poignant backdrop to this plot, and offers a glimpse of the sadder side of Sydney. It highlights the challenge of remaining optimistic when dealing with the daily pain of people’s lives.

Holier Than Thou deals with difficult issues, and yet it is infused with humour. Holly’s powerful feelings for her friends and family, as well as her slightly cynical view of the world in general, offer a way of looking her life with warmth and wit.

Laura Buzo has surrounded Holly with a cast of unique (a sensitive, dreadlocked circus enthusiast) and recognisable (a selfish, dramatic beauty) characters who breathe life into the pages of this book. The development of Holly’s own personality allows me to identify with her and become involved in her story.

Holier Than Thou would appeal to the upper end of the young adult market as well as adults. There are a few references to drug use and the honest portrayal of a mature relationship. The characters and quality of the writing will ensure that an older reader will savour this book.

Laura Buzo is the author of Good Oil (read Buzz Words Books review here) which was shortlisted for the 2011 Prime Minister's Literary Awards for Young Adult Fiction. It was also listed as a Notable Book in 2011 Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year - Older Readers. Holier Than Thou is Laura Buzo’s second novel.

Ann Harth is a published children's author and writing tutor at Australian College of Journalism. She loves to read and is committed to creating children's literature that inspires, entertains and triggers a tiny twist in the mind. Her latest middle-grade novel, The Art of Magic, will be released in 2012. 

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