Because sometimes all you need are a few guys leering from your cornices.
This book was good fun. Set in the 1920s, it follows Evie, a young American woman who wants to the first female obstetrician in the US in a time where girls even attending uni was frowned upon, let alone becoming doctors, let alone doctors that helped women give birth. The story traces her attempts to get in med school in NYC, and then to pay for med school once she’s in – she does this by becoming a showgirl with the Ziegfied Follies (another so called ‘scandalous’ choice that she strives to keep hidden lest she be expelled from university). At the same time a romance is brewing – Evie is falling in love with Thomas Whitman, a rich banker dude who is super nice and cool, but he keeps travelling abroad for business, and Evie is worried that because he’s such a high flyer, his relationship with her (and her associated scandals) could compromise his family business, etc etc…
I did think this dystopian story about young women being punished for sex with powerful men by being relegated to a brutal desert prison was good, but I found it hard to reconcile all the amazing reviews with my own reading experience…another case of being sucked in the by hype before I actually read the book, methinks.
Yolanda is one the girls in the prison (which is actually an abandoned sheep stations, manned by two male guards). I really liked Yolanda’s journey as she became more and more animal, stripping herself of cultural baggage and becoming no more than flesh and bone in a purposeful way (as opposed to a reductive way). The descriptions of her wandering the desolate paddocks slung with rabbit traps, carcasses and skins after she learned to hunt to survive were really powerful, and even though it sounds kind of gross, she was never a figure of horror – more of power and agency.
I also found the shifting power dynamics between the girls and the male guards really compelling, especially the way that Boncer’s ‘power’ could only be enforced by violence and threat (and finally rape), and that his desire for control basically emerged from his fear of the young women.
This book is a YA sci-fi romance – with a BIG emphasis on the romance. Tbh I’m not a huge fan of romance but this book did it well – and I think I would have read and re-read this book a hundred times had I read it as a teen.
‘Foal’s Bread’ is grim, jubilant, violent, gentle, magical, heartbreaking and uplifting all at the same time. This book has to be destined to become an Australian classic.
Set in the 1910s and 20s, it follows a family of farmers and horse jumpers – mostly Noey, her husband Roley, and her daughter Lainey. The story isn’t plot driven but there is so much going on…Noey losing a baby as a teen to her pedophile uncle, then marrying young, having two kids, keeping a dairy farm going, Roley getting struck by lightning, Noey and Roley’s mum’s volatile relationship…as well as horse training and breeding, anger problems, alcohol problems, weather problems, sex problems, small town problems, the kids growing up, etc. But it all feels really integrated, and the drama of family life becomes complicated and wondrous, validating human experience in even the most mundane, or most upsetting, situations.
This was an enjoyable collection of stories, each of them about some aspect of being a teenager or growing up. Think: lots of anxiety around sex, acne, where to next get booze, how to negotiate relationships with pals, parents, etc. The awkwardness of first dates, first kisses, first crushes. There was a lot in here I identified with!
This book was so good. An infuriating yet entirely lovable main character, equally complex secondary characters, hilarious writing style, incredible descriptions of place, and an absolute cracker of a plot. What more could a reader want? Shivaun Plozza has reminded me how incredible and wonderful and heartbreaking YA can be.