Friday, 29 July 2016

Ride High Pineapple

Ride High Pineapple by Jenny Woolsey (Pearls of Wisdom Press) PB RRP $29.25 ISBN 978-0-9945341-0-1                                                                             
Reviewed by Elizabeth Vercoe

Issy is in year 9 at Pinaroo High with a bestie and a beastie. The bestie is a friend and the beastie, a relentless bully.

Ride High Pineapple takes us via Issy’s journal into her friendships, family, school life, anxiety, sporting dreams, and the fact that she’s a normal kid with a not-very-normal face (she has craniofacial syndrome). It shows how she deals with the usual challenges of adolescence as well as being called names like ‘froggy face’.

It’s important to note that Ride High Pineapple is quite distinct in style and delivery from Wonder, another teen title dealing with facial difference.
In typical teenager style, Issy is moody, unpredictable and endearing. She is beautifully rendered in this novel – we don’t always understand her motivations but can resonate with the real and flawed human being before us. When she’s unable to deal with issues, Issy simply ignores them and immerses herself in either a screen or skateboard.

The intensity of teenage life including best friendships, romantic crushes, school and family, is played out with a sense of truth and drama. Issy can be jealous and mean-spirited. She’s also very clever, sassy, compassionate and kind, with a best friend who sticks by her.  

Creating the novel as a journal allows for passages of time to be marked, and requires the reader to do a little ‘work’, which is often a good thing. Coping strategies and questions are both woven into the fabric of the narrative and directly addressed to the reader. At times the author’s agenda is apparent, sitting alongside the practical solutions for children to use when dealing with difference and bullying.  

I love the intent of this beautifully told, page-turning story. The graphic and specific nature of both Issy’s syndrome and the bullying that she receives, are balanced with the technical detail and knowhow around skateboarding to offer interest and intrigue for both boys and girls.  

An unashamedly issues-based YA novel, it will no doubt elicit passionate and varied opinions if used as a stimulus for classroom discussion.   

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