I have been meaning to post this review for the last week or so. And here we are, I’ve finally got around to it!
‘The Yearbook Committee‘ by Sarah Ayoub was first published early this year (so definitely no spoilers!). Basically I bought this from Target as soon as it came out. The author is Australian, and the story is then set in Australia; something I love, because 4 times out of 5 the books I read are either written by an American author, or are set in America. [you can buy a copy here!]
The novel follows five teenagers in their last year of high school in a suburb of Sydney. They are each assigned to help out with their Yearbook, for numerous different reasons. Cue a year full of interesting encounters, sweet moments, and intense emotions.
This book was such a pleasant surprise! Not because I thought it would be bad (I never would have bought it if I had), but because I didn’t know what to expect at all. It was so realistic, and thought provoking. I read it in one sitting, because I simply couldn’t put it down.
The characters themselves were all very well fleshed out, and were unique in their own ways, which really made them seem like real people. I quite liked how at the start they each seemed to fulfil typical high school stereotypes, but at a closer look and deeper inspection they really shrugged those stereotypes off and were their own people. They each had things they were struggling with, and obstacles they needed to overcome.
The writing was easy to read, but was also well crafted. At no point did I feel like it was dumbing itself down, which is great because the teenage audience this would be mainly aimed at aren’t as dumb as people seem to think. Having wonderfully written characters to relate to is what they need.
It was really cool reading a book that was set close to home, in places that I recognise. There were references which I understood straight away, such as to Haigh’s and Cadbury’s, and that amplified the experience for me, because it’s not something that happens often. Even just the references to music that is popular right now was great, and all done really well. Never did it feel like Ayoub was shoving such things down my throat. And honestly, the whole story brought back memories of my own last year of high school.
I really loved all five of the main characters, but I would probably have to choose Gillian. She’s an incredibly positive person, despite all the people in her life who are trying to bring her down a notch. And there are other reasons too, but I said no spoilers.
When the gang graduate and make sure to get a picture together. It’s actually a really sweet scene, because they’re sort of tentative friends, and not sure if they would all be okay being seen in public with each other. But the two more ‘popular’ kids initiate the interaction separately, showing that they really don’t care what their other friends think of the friendship.
I’ve picked two very different quotes, because they illustrate the two distinct sides of this story:
“Ryan waved his hand dismissively and said that Haigh’s Milk Honeycomb chocolate was better than sex, and Charlie said he’s probably having sex with the wrong girls. It was the first time any of us heard Matty laugh. It made him look kind of cute.”
“That’s the thing about choices. They’re an act of knowledge, of faith, of love. It’s how we make them that sets us apart, because every single day, worlds are colliding, and our choices shape so much more than just our own story. And if we want to change this world for the better, then we must be the best possible version of ourselves, because who we are in each moment is our gift to the universe. This is what the present is: when the sum of one person’s past meets a world’s collective future.”
I truly love finding little diamonds which turn out to be written by local authors. Being able to support locals when the market is so flooded with American literature, is really nice. So I hope some of you go out and check out this book!
Also, let me know what you thought of my review! And if you have already read it, please share your own thoughts below!