The Yearbook Committee – Sarah Ayoub
22nd February 2016, 336 pages, 5/5 stars
I attended this book’s launch on February 25th at Kinokuniya, and Sarah was absolutely LOVELY! She and Melina Marchetta discussed writing about teens in contemporary Sydney. I still get so excited about knowing exactly where the characters are – it’s almost like you might run into them somewhere around Sydney – I had the same feeling with The Sidekicks! There was also SOOOOO MUCH food, which made Sarah my favourite author EVER! Until I finished the book….
This book is split into FIVE perspectives – I was a little bit concerned that I would lose track, or that I would dislike one character and suffer through those particular chapters…. BUT, I loved every single one of Sarah Ayoub’s creations, and the story she created beautifully portrayed the burgeoning friendships between the misfits. AND IT BUILT UP TO A MASSIVE PUNCH IN THE GUTS……
I particularly loved that each chapter started with a social media update. Poor little Gill – Ayoub even included the mean comments left on her statuses! I loved how it fleshed out these characters to see their online presence – seeing as that is where most teenagers’ and young adults’ social lives tend to play out now! (I would be a massive loner without the internet….)
Matty was probably my favourite character – he reminded me of the kind of boy Melina Marchetta writes so well; a bit scruffy and nondescript, but it turns out that he has a heart of gold! And his backstory HURTS. Ryan had a future in soccer, but he damaged his knee really badly, and this year he’s off the field. I wish that his family life had been explored a little bit more – he lives with his Gran, and she was really cute, but I wanted to see more!!! Charlie is an angry feminist who doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her. Her mum, a psychologist, is pregnant to her new husband, and he’s the reason behind their move from Melbourne. Charlie is determined to hate Sydney, and her new school. Gill is a politician’s kid – her mum is a socialite, and often comments on Gill’s weight, and her dad is focused on his career, and expects the family to cooperate with his goals. She also runs a blog about being a pollie’s daughter. Tammi was my least favourite – she is one of the popular kids, and she’s a bit of a cow at the beginning. As the reader gets to know her, she becomes nicer, but I still never quite trusted her.
None of the crew, except for Gill, want to participate in the yearbook. For different reasons, they have all been coerced into joining the committee. But it is heartening to see them becoming close, and becoming more involved in each other’s lives. When you force teenagers to work together, they might end up friends. 😛
The book’s prologue indicates that something major has happened, but we don’t know until the very very end. I almost forgot that there was something big coming because I was so absorbed in the story, and when it came it was very abrupt, which made it hurt so much more.
Overall, this was just a gorgeous story about teenage friendships, and about the many different ways everyone copes with stress. I wish we could have had a little bit more after the dramatic end, but I was still satisfied with the ending – even if I was a bit teary. Fans of Melina Marchetta will love this book, and many teenagers (and older readers) will find themselves in Ayoub’s characters.
Five teenagers. Five lives. One final year.
The school captain: Ryan has it all … or at least he did, until an accident snatched his dreams away. How will he rebuild his life and what does the future hold for him now?
The newcomer: Charlie’s just moved interstate and she’s determined not to fit in. She’s just biding her time until Year 12 is over and she can head back to her real life and her real friends …
The loner: At school, nobody really notices Matty. But at home, Matty is everything. He’s been single-handedly holding things together since his mum’s breakdown, and he’s never felt so alone.
The popular girl: Well, the popular girl’s best friend … cool by association. Tammi’s always bowed to peer pressure, but when the expectations become too much to handle, will she finally stand up for herself?
The politician’s daughter: Gillian’s dad is one of the most recognisable people in the state and she’s learning the hard way that life in the spotlight comes at a very heavy price.
Five unlikely teammates thrust together against their will. Can they find a way to make their final year a memorable one or will their differences tear their world apart?