Review Blog

May 28 2018

The learning curves of Vanessa Partridge by Clare Strahan

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Allen and Unwin, 2018. ISBN 9781760296797
(Age: Young adult) Vanessa Partridge is a young, exceptionally bright girl from a wealthy family who attends a prestigious school, does well academically, is a wonderful cello player and is always the 'good girl'. Last exam for the year and she is daydreaming about - boys, a boy in particular. Her attempts at the exam are less than minimal. Is this the first sign that Vanessa (Van) is following her own desires and thoughts rather than complying, being polite and doing what is expected without making her own choices? Is Vanessa 'going off the rails' or is she just growing up and realizing there is a world outside of her own 'bubble'?
Learning Curves of Vanessa Partridge has insights into the minds of many typical teenage girls growing up into adulthood. Their hormones are raging and hence their thoughts are unexpected yet perfectly normal. They are becoming more independent and take the risk of making decisions while taking responsibility for these choices even though there may be consequences. BUT - if a situation arises where others force their views or manipulate young people for ulterior reasons, this is when young people need the support of good friends, family and loving parents to help them be resilient, realise their inner strength and speak up for themselves. Acceptance and having strength to hold on to the belief that they can be true to themselves, truly loved and that they have a voice which deserves to be heard and understood.
This novel highlights the ongoing social situation of consent and power while challenging the reader to be active in advocating and supporting women caught in compromising situations in a world still dominated by men. It also moves the reader to re-examine and enjoy the beauty of nature and the peace that abounds in the natural world which must be preserved.
Various short quotes and personal statements are worthy 'tattoo statements' which carry much meaning to multiple generations of readers. Very witty dialogue, self-reflection statements and relatable yet interestingly complex characters make this a fun yet moving and heartbreaking novel that is difficult to put down.
Maria Burford

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