Review Blog

Dec 04 2011

A straight line to my heart by Bill Condon

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Allen and Unwin. 2011. ISBN 978 174237 730 8.
Some might consider it presumptuous for a grown man to write in the persona of a seventeen year old girl, however Bill Condon tells this gentle, affirming story with credibility. Tiffany is an endearing character who would have been an orphan, had she not grown up in the sleepy country town of Gungee Creek with Reggie, his late wife and his step-son Bull. In the narrative's setting, Reggie's advanced years see him regarded as a much loved grandfather, whilst Bull's role is the gruff but kindly father figure, complete with 'Dad jokes' and constant concern for Tiff's welfare.
Whilst she is a happy young woman with a mature attitude to life, Tiffany is still susceptible to its vagaries and difficult episodes. These include her best friend's pending move interstate, undertaking work experience with the local paper, illness within the family and the arrival of a real, live young man in Davey, the first boy to be interested in her!
Tiffany hopes to be a reporter and soon discovers that her sense of humor, clever way with words and assumptions about motives need refining for her to succeed. Her kind heart and healthy perspective on life need no adjustment at all however.
Condon's characters are likeable and authentic. It is gratifying to see that those with whom Tiffany interacts on other levels, such as Bull's girlfriend Zoe, her best friend Kayla, news reporters Joan and 'The shark' all demonstrate a desire to see her succeed and be happy. This is refreshing in modern literature which often obscures reality by the over representation of exploitative, threatening or sinister characters.
This is a simple story with few extremely dramatic elements. As a snapshot of a short period in an average teenager's life, this is believable and the creation of an engaging, interesting story within these limits is a credit to the author.
Rob Welsh

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