Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Reviews: The Learning Curves of Vanessa Partridge and In Search of Us

Title: The Learning Curves of Vanessa Partridge
Author: Clare Strahan
Genre: Contemporary
Source: A&U

Vanessa (Van) Partridge is curious about the idea of having sex. But she can't tell anyone. And no one would believe her anyway - because everyone knows she's a goody-two-shoes. But over the summer holidays, Van rebels and everything changes.

At first it feels like delicious freedom as she explores her independence, practising her favourite cello pieces, reconnecting with her long-time summer friend Kelsey and exploring her attraction to environmental activist Bodhi.

But when her sense of self is shaken, Van wrestles with issues of desire and consent, and the questions that have been plaguing her all along… Can someone with sensible plaits and an interest in philosophy really be a raving sex-o-maniac? And if they are, is there anything wrong with that?

The Learning Curves of Vanessa Partridge is a funny and warm coming-of-age novel about love, sex, friendship, family, and finding your voice.
Review by Nara

A novel written by an Australian author, The Learning Curves of Vanessa Partridge follows Van, a high school student who is exploring her sense of self and the different relationships around her including friends and family.

I have to admit, this novel did not make a huge impact on me- I can hardly remember most of the story now that I'm writing this review a month or so after I read the book. I remember it feeling as if it was being pitched at the level of a somewhat younger YA reader, probably someone in high school would have enjoyed the novel more than I did. Good thing I filled out my ratings at the time I read the novel, because I honestly wouldn't currently be able to accurately rate the novel.

It was okay
Overall: 5/10
Plot: 3/5
Romance: 2.5/5
Writing: 3/5
Characters: 2/5
Cover: 3/5

Title: In Search of Us
Author: Ava Dellaira
Genre: Contemporary
Source: A&U

The author of the beloved Love Letters to the Dead returns with a parallel story of a mother and daughter each at age seventeen. Marilyn's tale recounts the summer she fell in love and set out on her own path. Angie's story is about her search for her unknown father.

This sweeping multi-generational love story introduces readers to mother-and-daughter pair Marilyn and Angie. To seventeen-year-old Angie, who is mixed-race, Marilyn is her hardworking, devoted white single mother. But Marilyn was once young, too. When Marilyn was seventeen, she fell in love with Angie's father, James, who was African-American. But Angie's never met him, and Marilyn has always told her he died before she was born. When Angie discovers evidence of an uncle she's never met she starts to wonder: What if her dad is still alive, too? So she sets off on a journey to find him, hitching a ride to LA from her home in New Mexico with her ex-boyfriend, Sam. Along the way, she uncovers some hard truths about herself, her mother, and what truly happened to her father.

In Search of Us is Ava Dellaira's second book, and I think if you liked the quietly beautiful writing of her first novel, you will likely enjoy her second. In Search Of Us follows the two stories of Marilyn and Angie, who are mother and daughter. It reminded me a bit of Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga in terms of the split narrative and themes of searching for family and love.

In Search of Us is quite slow paced, but this is in part due to the style of the writing, which is very descriptive. I thought the pacing was actually okay because of the way in which the story was told- it felt as if we were slowly unfolding the two stories and that we would eventually get to where they linked together. Angie and Marilyn both had compelling tales, and I would certainly recommend this novel to lovers of contemporary coming-of-age novels.

Really liked it
Overall: 8/10
Plot: 4/5
Romance: 3/5
Writing: 4/5
Characters: 3.5/5
Cover: 3/5