The Bogan Mondrian by Steven Herrick
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A book club pick, the person who recommended was unaware that it was YA – that’s not a problem for me, but will make for an interesting discussion.
I grew up where this book is set, and lived in North Katoomba where our male protagonist is based. This was both a good and bad thing while reading. It was good because it added a level of familiarity and I could see glimpses of little bits of local truths woven throughout – and that was fun. It was bad because I was constantly thinking, wait that’s not there – or, that would take so long to walk to no one in their teens would actually do that. So it pulled me out of the novel a little as the author took some liberties with the landscape. Perhaps if real road names weren’t used I may not have had the same reaction.
It was also hard for me to write a review as I already had the scenery and town landmarks in my memories – so I’m not sure how well they were described for someone who didn’t know those places. I can’t think of anywhere that is easy to get to from Katoomba to see horse racing either.
Also, North Katoomba is really not this poverty stricken landscape compared to South Katoomba, they are about even at this point – that grated on me a little as well. If Charlotte had lived in Leura it would have made more sense, but as in any mountains community, the closer to the bush the more expensive the houses, the closer to the towns the cheaper they are, and North and South Katoomba have their rich areas.
I found Charlotte’s reactions and behaviours a little hard to believe for the age of the characters, that was a bit of a jolt throughout the whole book, the over-reactions of the characters to things that I didn’t quite get. I also found the ending not satisfactory in how it was managed. Having said that, this is YA, and younger YA at that, so in that context I think it was handled well.
Difficult one for me, I liked it and thought it was fun and informative for the age it was aimed at – however, it had the feel of being too informative in some respects. I think it’s a story and writing style caught between being too old for upper-primary, but too information driven for young adults.