Summary - Just remember, Isla, when you're searching for happiness, it knows all the best hiding places. (Gran McGonnigle)Isla McBay is not delighted to have left Scotland for sunny Australia. For starters, she can't swim - not great for pool parties. She misses her gran and her friends, her dad's giving her unbelievably irritating driving lessons, and she's constantly fighting with her younger sister, Terry, who always does everything first. Even her photography class with dreamy Sam Doyle and annoying yet intriguing Jack Ferris can't cure Isla's homesickness...Then Terry comes to Isla with a serious problem, forcing Isla to make a choice: will she be the better sister Terry needs her to be - or will she close her eyes to what's really important?
Review - The Girlfriend fiction series is a recent initiative from Allen and Unwin to bring teen stories to the shelves, it's mantra is "Real Life, Real Emotions, Awesome Stories". It has drawn upon a wealth of Australian YA talent (Penni Russon, Lili Wilkinson, Scot Gardner) to release two titles per month. I have read one prior to this title and I wasn't all that impressed but upon receiving Mo Johnson's Something More, I need to re-evaluate my stance.
In most YA titles, I find myself able to accurate predict many elements of the story. I found when reading this title that I had no freaking idea, sure the right guy for Isla is pretty clear but the journey was completely unexpected. The stepping stones that are placed logically but unexpectedly making this a great little read. (I say little as it is only 180 pages long.)
Most interesting to me is the themes encompassed. From Isla's homesickness for Scotland, the discussion of options in an unplanned pregnancy and moving forward in life, rather than dwelling on the past. It might sound a tad depressing but the pages are infused with warmth, vitality and humour, almost as if Johnson has tried to make each word feel like an Australian itself.
Mo Johnson has a real knack for dialogue, it's never naff, always sparky and natural. Her characterisation is remarkably developed, which is able assisted by the previously mentioned dialogue. Each family member, friend and mortal enemy are three dimensional and are removed from cliches. You find yourself chuckling aloud when certain phrases jump from the page. My favourite? I am currently tossing up between:
"As far as I'm concerned Sam Doyle should be cloned and given to every girl as a sixteenth birthday present."
"There is was: A Guy's Guide to Empathy, coming soon to the back of a postage stamp near you."
The humour is what I enjoyed most about Something More, it's chortle invoking and never forced. It reflects the author's very clear vision of Australian teens in all their glory. I can't help but hope that Miss Reid is a Hitchcockian manifestation of herself as I can see her as that teacher.
Something More is a sweet, humorous story with unexpected depth that I would definitely recommend. It also includes one of the most original, heart warming, artistic declarations of like(I don't want to say love) that I have read in a very long time. Now someone needs to hand me another Girlfriend fiction title.
Published: April 2009
Format: Paperback, 180 pages
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
_ _ _
Girlfriend fiction website
Mo Johnson's Website