The monster of her age by Danielle Binks

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Ellie Marsden has had a life-changing involvement as a child actor appearing in a horror movie with her famous grandmother. The experience came with trauma and her relationship with her famous grandmother, Lottie Lovinger, has not recovered from being immersed into the horror of the movie experience and the aftermath of life for the child actor. But now Ellie must confront another horror, the death of her grandmother. Despite being feted as a star, Lottie is also human and her life is silently coming to an end and her granddaughter, Ellie, must face her own responses to life, death, forgiveness and fear. As the family waits alongside the dying matriarch, Ellie stumbles across a film obsessed teen, Riya, whose understanding of the horror film genre is intense and revelatory. The relationship between the two girls becomes more than just fan-girl meets actress and must also cope with secrecy surrounding Lottie’s circumstances.

This is an intense story, dramatic and reflective. Woven into the story is Lottie’s Jewish family’s cultural practices, a developing romantic relationship between the young teen girls and some interpretative discussions about feminism and horror movies, as well as introducing a very complex family that has a history of fame in the film industry (that Binks has created within an Australian context – particularly with a Tasmanian flavour). The complexities of waiting for someone to die adds a dramatic element to this romance/family drama. This is definitely a Young Adult drama for those interested in film and non-hetero romance. The Monster of her age may not appeal to all readers, but examining who is the monster in a difficult circumstance makes for interesting consideration.

Themes: Horror movies, Family dysfunction, Australian movie industry, Grief, Forgiveness, Fame, LGBTIQ, Jewish culture.

Carolyn Hull