Review Blog

May 17 2012

Love-shy by Lily Wilkinson

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Allen and Unwin, 2012. ISBN 978 1 74237 623 3
(Ages: 12+) Highly recommended. Humour. Looking around for a challenge to research to further her intellectual abilities for a career in journalism, Penny stumbles over a boy leaving a computer in the library. With some finesse she is able to get a look at what he was accessing, a website called love-shy.com. From here her senses are aroused and through an hilarious process of elimination, finds out who the boy is in year 10 who is so love shy that he talks about his problem on a blog. Thinking about a page one article for her school Gazette sees her delving into this boy's life, gathering information, eventually gaining his trust to a point where she becomes a surrogate date to try and increase his skills with the opposite sex.
This sounds very straightforward, if it was not for Penny's innate and at times insufferable belief in herself and the rightness of what she is doing. She ploughs ahead, not heeding the depths she is plumbing, or the anxiety she is causing for Nick. She storms on, not realising that she may be in the same predicament, not quite a loner like Nick, but keeping herself aloof, surrounding herself with tasks and committees, jobs and clubs, all to avoid having to make and communicate with friends. When she and Nick finally argue, after she inadvertently reveals that she reads his blog, he tells her that she is just as bad as he, and this rocks her world. Absolutely stunned, she learns something about herself and so sets about involving others in her journey to self improvement.
This is a wonderful tale, full of fabulous characters, some amazing like Nick's parents and some most understandable, like Penny's parents, but all of them drawn so convincingly and with such a sense of warmth and understanding that it is hard not to like them all. The humour is understated, as we see Penny blinkered by her research project, oblivious to anyone else, focussed on her goal of being a journalist. The scenes at the party and at various functions around the school are very real, written with a deft touch based on Wilkinson's fine ability to observe and deconstruct what is going on.
Fran Knight

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