Out of this Place by Emma Cameron
Candlewick Press | Hardcover, 402 pages
YA Realistic Fiction, Verse
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
I am a fan of verse novels. Sometimes, I prefer sparse words over wordy novels. It doesn’t take long for me to get into the meat of the story. In this case, three stories. Three friends on the cusp of adulthood, deciding how to live out their future. I mean, sure, it’s not the most original jump off for a coming of age novel but each of their plight is not that easy to plan out.
This book tackled a whole slew of issues characteristic of the usual YA realistic fiction. Surprisingly enough, it didn’t hit me with the angst that I’d expected from such a novel. In fact, I think that some discerning readers would consider it as a negative point because it will not necessarily move them to tears. But, I digress. Who says a book must make you cry to be good, anyway? Out of This Place had just enough emotional pull to incite your sympathy and hope that in the end, the characters will get a lovely happy ending.
Luke, the straight A student has to decide whether or not to stick out the rest of his high school life or pursue a scholarship that would enable him to work and go to school at the same time. Money is tight, so he needed to find a job. His family life is as calm as a dove. In fact, he worries more about his two best friends than he does his parents: Bongo, the abused and Casey, a prisoner at her own house. He’s also in love with her but he could never have the courage to cross that line just in case his already skittish friend pushes him away permanently.
There’s also Bongo’s story which is on the surface is the direst of the three. Abused, uncared for with no decent prospects to speak of. He’s on a downward spiral to nowhere: drugs, alcohol and had to contend with a heavy-handed stepfather. All he ever wanted was a chance to get his brother back from the ‘system’. From one foster family to another, Bongo’s dream is getting farther and farther away. He too, is in love with Casey but he refuse to do something about it because he could never hurt Luke, his best friend.
Casey’s life was a never-ending days of suffocating parenting that led her scheming for ways to check out. She can’t breathe; she can’t move a muscle without the approval of her father. She schemed and lied to get a job for money she would use to leave the tyranny of her father. When she found her wings, she met people that treated her with love – love that her own family seem reluctant to dole out. Out there in the world and on her own she also found love of a different meaning – or what she thought was love.
Three kids too young to face the realities of life. But if there’s one thing they all have in common, is that their trio of friendship and love is all they would need. There’s no love triangle here, folks. So no need to worry if you’re not into that sort of thing. The romance between them wasn’t really explored. It’s mostly friendship, camaraderie and love akin to that of siblings. They looked out for each other as much as they could.
If there’s one thing this book has in common among its Aussie compatriots, is its ability to tell a gut-wrenching story that ends exactly how you’d hope it would end. My only problem though is exactly that, the book has ended even though I’m left wanting to read how their lives turned out. Over all, Cameron can go toe-to-toe with the best of them. She perfectly captured what it is that made Aussie contemps worth spending considerable cash for. I, for one, am adding her on my list of Aussie authors to watch out for.