Monday, April 11, 2011
Review + GIVEAWAY: Pink by Lili Wilkinson
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.
Julie Anne Peters
HarperCollins / Feb. 8, 2011 / Hardcover / 310pp. / $16.99
Personal copy. Awesomeeeee.
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!