Review-y things

Dear reader, I have been rather pressed doing exciting writer-y things, such as attending and presenting at the Perth Writers Festival, hosting writing workshops with year 10s at Frederick Irwin School in Mandurah, and moderating election forums on where-to for Western Australian writing funding. I’ve also been getting this video out into the world.

I’ve also had some lovely reviews of Before You Forget: here’s an edited sample to save you clicks (full list here):

From Joanne Morrell in Westerly

…And although the major theme in Before You Forget is based on early-onset Alzheimer’s, there are many fitting storylines for an adolescent readership, providing relief to the book’s tragic topic: a love interest for Amelia in the cute boy next door and a disobedient Jack Russell called Hecta. Lawrinson captures the essence of youth in Amelia. Her character is unfalteringly comical, witty and emotionally charged with every page turn. Her relatable qualities will be a big hit among young readers. Before You Forget does not stray from Lawrinson’s other work, which boasts her usual style of engrossing prose and examination of major themes. But this novel, I feel, has been her biggest challenge yet: incorporating her and her teenage daughter’s heartbreakingly personal story of having lived and in a sense lost her husband and her daughter’s father to early-onset Alzheimer’s. Lawrinson pours first-hand knowledge into this novel about family, friendship and loss.

From Love to Read Local (writingWA)

Established young adult author Lawrinson takes on new ground in this tragi-comic exploration of the impact of early-onset Alzheimer’s on a family. Told through the eyes of Year 12 art student Amelia, the story is unflinching in its description of the effects of this heartbreaking disease, but leavened throughout with heart and humour. As Amelia navigates the difficult terrain of adolescence, she must also come to terms with her father’s personality change, erratic behaviour, and subsequent diagnosis, and renegotiate her relationship with both parents as family dynamics shift. A wry, resilient character, Amelia is above all realistically drawn – at once angry and sad, short-tempered and tender as she tries to find a place for herself within an experience that makes little space for the young. As well as shining a clear light on an important topic, Before You Forget is a compelling story full of compassion, tightly and beautifully told.

From Liz Derouet

I love Julia Lawrinson’s work. Bye, Beautiful (2006) is still one of my favourite YA books, bye-beautifulever. Before You Forget is very different. It is set in the present day with real life issues. The embarrassment felt by Amelia from her father’s increasingly weird behaviour, and her own knowledge that she should be more supportive, is raw and honest. She manages as most her age would, maturing and developing throughout the narrative in a gradual way. In her own way of coping with her need of support and father’s health, she is unaware of Gemma’s slow self-destruction and demise. Lawrinson’s clever way of showing, not telling, has readers see this before Amelia. Both Amelia’s and Gemma’s needs for each other threatens to clash in a detrimental way.

This is an interesting read. While involving a devastating, irreversible diagnosis, it also contains humour and wit. Characterisation is strong and the narrative flows well from the first sentence. Sub-plots and minor characters are as well rounded and well written as the major players, making this, for me, an entire package. This book will do well in public and high school libraries.

From Trish Talks Texts

Julia Lawrinson’s tight exploration of the effects of early onset Alzheimer’s is tough going. Not only because of how long it takes to diagnose Amelia’s dad, but also because of how distressing it is for him, and for the people around him. We see him give money away to strangers, embarrass Amelia at a shopping centre, and we see the grief it causes him when his licence is taken away. It’s not pretty. …

I loved Amelia’s wry observations, and her humble approach to life. While she did bemoan her situation, she never sounded whiny or melodramatic. I thought she dealt well with a terrible tragic situation and is going to be okay. The realism of her situation is important and appreciated.

Before you Forget is recommended for readers who like their contemporary novels a bit gritty, a bit sad, and involving a character who faces adversity bravely. I also love this cover.

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