Girl Saves Boy by Steph Bowe

Publication Date: August 30th, 2010
Text Publishing
Format: Paperback, 288 pages
RATING: 3 out of 5 Stars
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.

This book was written when the author was sixteen years old. I’m serious. And if you ever have the chance to read it, you’ll never know that it was. Steph Bowe’s writing seems so mature and it’s scary that she’s so young and have this much talent already. I can’t wait to read more of her stuff. I wish it wasn’t so expensive to acquire books from Australia. One thing’s for sure, she’ll be added on to my growing list of Aussie authors to watch for.

Though my rating for this book seems like it’s middle of the bar, Girl Saves Boy is still so much better than some of the contemporary fiction that I’ve read this year. For such a young author, Steph Bowe penned a very insightful novel tackling one of the most sensitive and difficult of topics: Death. We have a couple of characters who’s got first-hand experiences and had to make their own choices about how their lives must go on while grieving.

In my honest opinion, the weak point of this novel is the lightning-fast romance. And perhaps the main reason was because Sacha was terminally ill and he owed Jewel his life; or because Jewel has been a misanthrope most of her life that she’d grab at the first opportunity to love someone. But I can’t fathom falling in love that quick in a matter of less than a week (give or take). It just doesn’t seem all that realistic.

The ending left a lot in the open. It’s a good thing and a bad thing. Ultimately though, I think it was a cop-out ending. As much as I hate to see a character die, I think that ending the book the way it did, didn’t really fulfill my expectations. When I read the synopsis, I readily knew what was in the offing. But upon finishing the book, I was just left with all these feelings that I had no outlet for. It’s weird to psych yourself up for a gruelling, tear-jerker of a read and finding out that it was all for naught.

VERDICT: The best thing about contemporary fiction from Aussie authors is their ability to tell a story the way it is but not for the purpose of shock value. Some of the situations that come up as part of the character’s identity wasn’t really what could be classified as the norm. Her writing is very gutsy, refreshing and more often very intelligent. I’m really excited to see how far Steph would go. Based on her debut, her future in writing seems endless.

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