Author: Megan Jacobson
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Publication Date: 1st February 2016
Rating: 4/5 stars
If fourteen-year-old Kirra is having a mid-life crisis now, then it doesn’t bode well for her life expectancy. Her so-called friends bully her, whatever semblance of a mother she had has been drowned at the bottom of a gin bottle ever since her dad left them for another woman, and a teenage ghost is speaking to her through a broken phone booth.
Kirra and the ghost make a pact. She’ll prove who murdered him almost twenty years ago if he makes her popular, gets her parents back together, and promises not to haunt her. But things aren’t so simple, and Kirra realises that people can be haunted in more ways than one.
THIS COVER IS JUST BEAUTIFUL! To be honest, the cover has absolutely been the reason why I read this book. Sure, the ghost thing sounds kind of cool in a creepy way, but THE COVER ART!!!!!
Kirra was a really likeable main character. She is going through A LOT. Her friends are ostracising her. Her dad left her mum (and her) for a younger, posher (pregnant) make-up saleswoman. Her mum is an alcoholic. She accidentally kills a dog.* And then, of course, a ghost starts to talk to her through a disused telephone box.
*(At the Kinokuniya launch, the dog-killing scene was read by the gorgeous actress Shari Sebbens of The Sapphires fame, and she bought it to life in the most magnificent way!!! Yes, it’s sad, but it is narrated with such dry humour I couldn’t help but giggle.)
Although the ghost, Boogie, gives the book a supernatural touch, for the most part it was just a story about identity, and finding your place. Kirra wants the supernatural to fix everything that is wrong with her life, but in the end she discovers that it is within her own power to make things better. I’m not a fan of ghost stories (I was TERRIFIED of everything as a child), but this one isn’t scary.
But it was Willow who was my favourite character. At school, she is on the absolute bottom rung of the female social hierarchy, called a slut by her fellow students. But when Kirra falls from grace as well, the two become friends. Willow is the baddest bitch of all time. She refuses to take crap from anybody and has amazing self-esteem. We all need a girl like Willow in our friendship groups!
While the book can be read and enjoyed by anybody, it is definitely Australian. The slang, the landscape, and the lifestyle are all familiar to the Aussie reader. The country/city divide comes up, as do the socioeconomic disparities in what is supposedly a ‘classless’ society.
Beautifully written, with brilliant characterisation, Yellow is an amazing debut from the lovely Megan Jacobson. While personally I believe the story could have done away with the supernatural altogether, the novel is a fantastic glimpse at Australian life in the 90s, and a lovely story of identity. The book was officially launched by Melina Marchetta, the queen of Australian identity stories, and I believe Yellow is a very worthy addition to that particular subset of the YA genre.