Writing Clementine by Kate Gordon

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Allen & Unwin, 2014. ISBN 9781743316634
(Age: Yr 7+) Recommended. Clementine Darcy's year 9 philosophy class isn't turning out to be what she expected. The teacher asks the students to simply write, whilst Clementine is hoping for answers to the big questions of life and wants to know 'Why am I here?' As she writes, she reflects upon her own life which isn't quite going in the direction she has hoped for either. Her friends want to change her to be more like them, her brother Fergus continues to lock himself in his room, failing to communicate with his family, her sister has her own issues, and Clem realises that life is far from perfect. As her story unravels through her journaling, Clementine continues to be true to herself and constantly endeavours to make life better for the people for whom she cares. Her meeting with a seemingly odd new boy in class causes her to question certain aspects of her own life and the way in which she behaves in certain situations. Will she be able to turn things around to mend her family and its problems?
Reading this book was a truly refreshing experience. Clementine is a delightfully strong and quirky female protagonist, confident enough not to change her style or interests to satisfy her friends, willing to accept the quirky Fred and his friends, breaking away from the strict guidelines her friends try to impose on her and teaching others in the process. Touching on serious issues of bullying, anorexia and mental illness, but all handled with a dose of sensitivity and humour, this will be added to my list of recommended reads for students in Year 7 and above.
Jo Schenkel