Monday, September 13, 2010

Girl Saves Boy by Steph Bowe

The first time we met, Jewel Valentine saved my life. 

Isn’t it enough having your very own terminal disease, without your mother dying? Or your father dating your Art teacher? 

No wonder Sacha Thomas ends up in the lake that Saturday evening… 

But the real question is: how does he end up in love with Jewel Valentine?

With the help of quirky teenage prodigies Little Al and True Grisham, Sacha and Jewel have a crazy adventure, with a little lobster emancipation along the way. 

But Sacha’s running out of time, and Jewel has secrets of her own. 

Girl Saves Boy is a hugely talented debut novel, funny and sad, silly and wise. It’s a story of life, death, love… and garden gnomes.

Girl Saves Boy is 16 year old Aussie author Steph Bowe's debut

Girl Saves Boy has a unique flavour to add to the YA scene. With it's quirky and off-beat vibe it's an intelligent novel that manages to convey hope among devastation and silliness alongside mourning.

The story is told from Sacha's POV and Jewel's POV.

The narrative isn't always linear in a sense of plot moving forward with scenes. It's got anecdotes and a running internal narrative of thoughts on life and death and the world in general. You know how sometimes you're thinking one thing which leads to thinking about another and another and so on and then you come back to original thought? Sometimes the narrative swirls along in that style, with quirky asides and observations.

The prose is gorgeous and charming. And it felt straight from a teen perspective - in the concerns of the characters and their outlook on life: sometimes jumbled, other times hopeful and also occasionally defeated. It reflected the braveness and conviction of teens but lacked hindsight that comes with adulthood - which gave it a true teen vibe.

I do think there was a lot going on in the novel in terms of tragedies and scarred pasts and tormented characters and dead people. It seemed overwhelming that they all had such complicated and devastating back-stories. Although the novel didn't just dwell on this aspect - there were plenty of moments of fun and general silliness.

Some sections were reminiscent of Brigid Lowry's Guitar Highway Rose - so much so that I would imagine that book may have had an influence on Bowe's writing style? And GHR is a dynamically brilliant book (as a teen, my friends and I were inspired to write our school writing assignments in a format similar to Guitar Highway Rose - I love that book hard. Diverting in my review here to urge anyone who hasn't read it yet to track it down - you can thank me after :).

Random Thoughts:

  • Throughout the novel I was unsure where it was headed. I like the feeling of things lurking unpredictably up ahead but occasionally I felt like I was floundering a little in terms of following the main story arc.
  • I didnt always understand the characters motivations, but I kept flipping the pages regardless.
  • Like in many alternating POV books, I connected stronger with one POV over another (in this case, it was Sacha's). Does anyone else find this in duel/multi-POV reads?
  • It felt teenagery with it's many comments on clothing and what everyone looks like and how tall they are, etc. Kinda cute, that.
It's really an impressive debut and I haven't tried to be favourable in my review due to Steph's age. She's a bright talent and I imagine teens will find lots to love about this book and it's characters. It will appeal to guys and girls.


  1. I've been wanting to get my hands on Steph's debut...and I love your review for it's honesty, and spoiler-free-ness.

    I think you've conveyed the conveyance of a wandering teenage mind very well. >< (does that make any sense?)

    I love your blog. As always!

    ●▬▬▬๑۩Tina @ Book Couture۩๑▬▬▬●

  2. I must be living under a rock, I did not know that Steph wrote a book. I adore her reviews; they are so well-written and insightful, and I really am interested in reading her book.

    I was also unaware that she was an Aussie, but then it does not surprise me either as you Aussie's are all very talented.

    Thanks for the review, I will be checking this out soon.

  3. Really enjoyed your review, haven't managed to get my hands on Steph's book yet, soon. I love YA and nothing better than supporting a talented Aussie author.

  4. Thanks for your honest review. I'm not sure this one is for me but I adore the cover.

  5. This sounds like another good one, although I feel like you're recommending Guitar Highway Rose over this?? I can't recall if I entered your contest for this. I do that sometimes.

  6. Nomes, this review is just so awesome. Kind of as quirky as you say the book is. I like quirky books so I'm looking for this but I can't get it anywhere here :(

    The cover's cute too and I love it that you didn't give away too much.

    Also, I think identifying with one character over another in a multiple PoV book does happen. It's a good thing I think cos sometimes when that doesn't happen it means both characters sound the same. Sometimes.

  7. I find that I always prefer one of the POVs as well :). Nice review, seems like a sweet and thoughtful book!

  8. good review. very unbiased, and unlike my reviews actually critical.
    this books sounds great and i am very interested now you've compaired it to guitar highway rose, which i LOVE.


Thanks for the commenty love :)