Everything is changed by Nova Weetman
University of Queensland Press, 2016. ISBN 9780702254161
(Age: YA) Highly recommended. Themes: Choices; Friendship; Guilt; Regret. This is brilliantly written! Right from the opening chapter we know how the story ends . . . but how did it all come to this devastating place. This is a powerful YA novel of friendship destroyed by a reckless moment of teenage thoughtlessness. The power of the novel is in the construction, or rather, deconstruction of the circumstances. Guilt drips from the pages, marring what was once good, simple and full of hope. Weetman has essentially told the story by exposing the consequences of a simple action committed by a pair of friends as they simply enjoy each other's company with no thoughts beyond the moment, but an action that has lethal consequences. And the reader desperately wants it all to be different for the young teens and the girlfriend innocently caught in the middle. We watch the unravelling as the initial event is reconstructed back to its source, knowing always that there is no happy ending (or technically, beginning). The pages weep with 'if only' moments.
Weetman's portrayal of young male friendship undergoing change brought on by maturing, girlfriends, new horizons and school scenarios would have been worthy on its own, but her addition of the foreboding of the horror of the defining action in their lives, with its impact on their families, relationships and future lifts this book into a different plane. This is so cleverly written and the plot is so well managed (in its reverse chronology) that it is worth reading for this feature alone. But it is certainly worth reading too for its portrayal of the impact of one unwise moment. Get it into the hands of young male readers who will perhaps recognise in their own lives the small actions that could equally have significant impacts on their future. (There is some coarse language).