Review Blog

Jul 15 2015

The Guy, the Girl, the Artist and His Ex by Gabrielle Williams

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Allen & Unwin. 2015. ISBN 9781743319550
(Age: 15+) Highly recommended. Adolescent. Mystery. Four young people's lives collide when Picasso's painting of the Weeping Woman is stolen from the walls of the National Gallery of Victoria. Guy is a party animal, who is not succeeding at school, lies to his parents about his school results but proves himself a hero. Rafi is a young girl whose mother has not recovered from the death of her little brother and believes that she is pursued by La Lorona, the weeping woman of South American origin. The ex is Penny, a single mother who is still in an unhealthy relationship with Luke, the artist, the father of her baby Joshie, and who is totally self-centred and selfish.
Williams has used the real theft of the Weeping Woman as the background to her story and what a fascinating background it makes. The thieves, calling themselves the Australian Cultural Terrorists, are demanding that the Victorian Government increase funding for struggling artists in Victoria. There are newspaper reports and letters to the editor, all giving information about what is going on with the theft. At the same time the four protagonists are telling their stories in separate chapters, under the heading of each: The guy (Guy), the girl (Rafi), the artist (Luke) and the ex (Penny). All four feel the repercussions of the art theft in many different ways and William's weaves a fascinating story together linking each and ultimately coming up with a perfectly rational answer to how the theft could have taken place.
This is a fabulous read for the older teen, exploring many themes. These include mental illness and the impact that it can have on family and strangers, as Rafi struggles with living with her mother who cannot appreciate her living daughter, concentrating only on the memory of her dead son. Penny, the ex, is struggling with being a young single parent and knows that Luke is selfish and that she must break from him, but still loves him. Guy cannot bring himself to let his parents know that he is failing at school and Dipper, Luke's friend, finds it difficult to stand up to his stifling ego.
I loved this book, its historical background and information about Picasso, the setting of Melbourne and above all the superb voices of the four main characters.
Pat Pledger

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