Review: A Straight LIne to My Heart by Bill Condon

Publication Date: August 1st, 2011
Allen & Unwin
Format: Paperback, 228 pages
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
A funny, poignant, realistic story of Tiffany’s first love and first job, and the inevitability of change in the first summer out of school School is over, not just for the year, but forever. Tiff and Kayla are free, which is what they’ve always wanted, but now summer is nearly at an end and that means life decisions. Tiff is hoping her job at the local paper will lead to something more, but “The Shark” soon puts her straight on what it takes to become a hard-nosed reporter like him. At home, Reggie—the only grandad she’s ever known—has quit smoking and diagnosed himself as a cactus, and then Kayla hits her with some big news. And into all this stumbles Davey, who plays rugby but quotes Truman Capote, and is the first boy who has ever really wanted to know her. Tiff is smart with words and rarely does tears, but in one short week she discovers that words don’t always get you there; they don’t let you say all the stuff from deep in your heart.

So check it. This is how it is in Australia, apparently. There is ONE school where all the writers go and learn how to write the most heartfelt, realistic stories of the human element. Seriously, authors like, Melina MarchettaFiona WoodLeanne HallCath CrowleyHannah Harrington…etcetera…etcetera…Well, I just found out that Bill Condon also went to the same school! Imagine that. And you know what? I soooo could tell he went to the same school. His story telling style kind of follows the same formula as all the other Aussie authors I’ve discovered before him. Their final exams goes like this: Take the most banal character you could ever conceive out of your creative mind and then make your readers fall in love with them. How? Well, that’s the tricky part. Mundane characters tend to be boring and painfully introverted…well, Tiffany is both. But what separates Tiffany from the rest of the poor heroines that forever be nicknamed as, Mary Sue? Well let me try and break it down for you if you’re interested.

It’s quite simple, actually: You have an orphaned girl taken in by Reggie, her sort of grandfather who also happens to be living with his stepson Bull. Tiff considers him as his uncle (but not really). These three remind me of a group of riff-rafts but their family unit is one that is the most tight knit, supportive, and loving familial relationships I’ve ever had the privilege to read. So there’s Tiff, cruising on to the highway of life when some barricades started sprouting out of nowhere. Poor Tiff. First, there was this giant of a boy who seemed to have developed quite an interest on her.  He’s a footie…er, footy…er…can I just call him a football player? Anyway, for some strange reason, this boy started talking to her…say what?! Tiffany? Plain, boring Tiffany whose nose is permanently glued to a book? Yes. That Tiffany! Well, there’s gotta be something wrong with this boy, right? Actually, he’s not that bad. He’s quite cute and he appears to be well read, judging by his penchant for quoting Truman Capote. Tiffany figured that she could handle the boy, considering they don’t even live in the same town. Besides, she’s got other things she has to worry about. Like the fact that Reggie’s acting extra weirder ever since he quit smoking. He’s been talking more about funeral arrangements and tidying up loose ends. Oh! and she’s about to start an internship at a local paper where her direct boss is called The Shark. So really, she doesn’t need any more challenges in her life. But life is a meddling bitch who can’t leave things well enough alone. Anywho, that’s the gist of the story.

This book is patently Australian. The slang, the landscapes, the personalities. Seriously. I’m now more inclined to fall all over myself to meet an Aussie. There is a uniformity in the way these authors write about their folks and their country. The characters are all heart and the landscapes, no matter how extreme, becomes a beauty off the pages. One of the things that I enjoyed about these books is that there isn’t a shortage of perfectly realistic characters. They’re the type that I want to meet in real life. No frills, they’ll tell you how it is and with not a single iota of pretentiousness.

I love that Bill Condon plied me with humour till I was comfortable enough to think that he wasn’t going to go where he went. The best thing about it is he was consistent with the funnies even though you’re supposed to be crying and it was great because I ended up tearing up and incongruously laughing at the same time.

Over all, A Straight Line to My Heart was a fantastic read. It’s a story about an unconventional family with the most unconditional love for each other. Bill Condon truly captured all the qualities that I’ve grown to love about these books from Down Under; heartfelt, humorous and above all, realistic.


The first paragraph of this review is a complete BS…well, not all of them. The part of Australia having ONE school for writers is. 😀

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