Monday, April 11, 2011

Review + GIVEAWAY: Pink by Lili Wilkinson

Tags: YA, contemporary, Aussie lit, musical theatre, LGBT, friendship


Smart and pink-loving Ava Simpson wants a chance to be normal. So she leaves behind her girlfriend, the cool and sophisticated Chloe, for a new school, and eagerly dives into a new life filled with girly clothing, challenging academics, hanging out with the “Pastels,” and crushing on a hot boy.

But what is normal, anyway? And, more importantly, who is Ava? When Ava joins the stage crew and befriends a quirky group of geeks, she feels torn between Chloe, the Pastels, and these “Screws.” But juggling all these different identities is not easy, and Ava has to figure out who she is before she loses everyone.


THAT’S IT. Upon my college graduation this May, I am packing up my worldly possessions and moving to Australia, land of infinite YA talent. I have been fortunate enough to read a number of wonderful Aussie YA authors—Cath Crowley, Kathy Charles, Melina Marchetta, Jaclyn Moriarty, Kristy Eagar—but Lili Wilkinson’s PINK raised in me the rare and wonderful feeling of wanting to walk up to everyone I see and go, “This book. Oh my word. It’s…words fail me in describing its awesome. JUST READ IT.” I’m going to equate this feeling to the one I got when I finished Robin Brande’s Fat Cat, still one of my favorite books ever, and then gushed endlessly about it for years and years and tell people repeatedly that they need to read it (yes, Jamie, I’m talking to you).

So. *breath* Let’s begin to explain why PINK is the Holy Grail of YA Contemporary Awesome, at least probably for those who share my taste in contemporary fiction. First of all, it is important to note that this is the most elegantly casual portrayal of LGBT teens I have encountered in YA. “Elegantly casual” sounds like an oxymoron, but what I mean by that is that it is a lovely realistic presentation of the ambiguities of teen sexuality. Lili Wilkinson doesn’t try to fit Ava and the other characters into character types in LGBT fiction that have been done before. Instead, they are simply allowed to…exist as they are, and it’s not a big freaking deal. David Levithan didn’t quite do it for me with his utopian romance Boy Meets Boy, but I am enamored by PINK’s skillful and intelligent handling of sexual orientation and identity.

Speaking of intelligence, PINK has the type of smartness that will appeal to everyone, regardless of your IQ level. Ava and the Screw kids are, without a doubt, nerds—specifically of the sci-fi geek kind. This means that they constantly engage in the most entertaining of conversations regarding the strangest and most obscure topics everywhere. There’s nothing like using one’s excessive brainpower for nerdy humor, and as someone who goes to a nerdy-cool college, I adored the banter. The Screw kids are weird, but they’re cool-weird, and best of all, each of the five has his or her own distinct personality.

PINK has all of the essentials that I live in a contemporary novel: a strong-voiced protagonist who is still in the process of growing, wit, full characterization. Not to mention some delectable extras: the sci-fi geek details, musical theatre (!), a cute boy, and memorable side characters. Without a doubt, PINK is going on my favorites shelf, and I eagerly look forward to the next time I reread it, so that I can experience the joy of this wonderfully well-written book all over again.

Similar Authors
Julie Anne Peters
Maureen Johnson
John Green
E. Lockhart
Nina Beck
Robin Brande

Cover discussion: Sighhhhhh. So many of my favorite books have really unappealing covers. I wouldn't be surprised if you don't see this in many bookstores, because who really wants to display a set of heavily lipsticked lips on a shelf? I actually own the Aussie/UK copy, and I'm not a fan of its cover either. I'm not sure what type of reader either cover is trying to attract. The ditzy girlie-girl? I would have missed this if it hadn't been for all the good things I've heard about it, that's for sure.

HarperCollins / Feb. 8, 2011 / Hardcover / 310pp. / $16.99

Personal copy. Awesomeeeee.

Giveaway Info!

I have an extra Aussie/UK copy of Pink that I'd like to share with someone because this book is too good to keep to myself. To enter, fill out the form below, making sure to answer the question relevantly. This giveaway is open to US & Canada residents (don't worry: even if you can't win it here, you can buy it from Book Depository!), and ends Monday, April 25, 2011. Have fun!


  1. 'Holy Grail of YA Contemporary Awesome'? It really *is*, isn't it? Pink is one of my absolute favourite books of the past year, without a doubt. It's so smart.

    For me, that Aussie / UK cover is epic. I like to think that it challenges all those assumptions some readers have about girly 'pink' books, while at the same time being an awesome girly pink book. I do wonder whether some will overlook it due to its pinkness though. I sure hope not.

  2. I'm so there with you! The entire time I was reading this book, I kept gushing about it to anyone I thought would be interested, and now that I've finished it...well, I'm probably getting a bit annoying. Seriously though, where has this book been all my life? I don't have a review up of it yet, but it's soon to come, never fear!

    I actually really like the US cover, though I think it comes off as being more punk that split between two words (bright pink + black is kind of its own thing, I think).

  3. I just read this book two weeks ago and it is so good! The funny thing is, I probably wouldn't have read it except for the cover - I love it! I like really simple covers with one striking graphic and the black and pink lips cover is one of my all-time favorites. It's so interesting to see how different people like different covers - good thing there are all kinds!

  4. I read this last year, it's fantastic. I think anyone who's ever been a teenager can identify with the feelings of "where do I fit in?" Being a bit of a theatre and fantasy/sci-fi/weirdy-books geek myself, I enjoyed that side to the story - do I remember rightly there being a reference to a "timey-wimey detector?" Ahem.

    I'm not overly keen on either of the cover designs, though probably favouring the UK/Aussie edition because it's the one I've got. But I wish it was more eye-catching and reflected the story better.

  5. Holy Grail of YA Contemp? Okay, i'm totally convinced. The Screw kids sound pretty friggen awesome and I agree, YA aussie authors are amazing!! I love the black and pink cover of this one, not the all-pink one

  6. *Squee*! I really need to read this! Thank you so much for the honest review! I really cannot wait to pick this one up! Thank you for the opportunity<3

  7. Your enthusiastic review has convinced me to read this book as soon as I can. I'm a fan of Aussie YA too and I even joined the Aussie YA Reading Challenge this year. I'm planning to order from the Book Depository soon and I'm hoping to include a copy of this.

  8. This sounds do good! What were they thinking when they decided to go with that cover for the US. I can't see anyone picking this up based on the cover alone.

  9. Great review. I read it a few weeks ago and adored it. I haven't read much Australian YA, I'm definitely going to be reading more now.


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