I was seven when the eighties ended.
As a teenager in the nineties, I used to say this with a degree of pride – after all, the eighties were the era that style forgot, weren’t they? The era of glitter hair gel and bubble shirts and perms and pastel suits? Not to mention dodgy music (Olivia Newton John! Jason Donovan! Rick Astley! Eek!). We nineties kids were much less daggy; much more switched on. We were the Reality Bites generation; the Mallrats generation. Empire Records. Grunge. Experimental-era Madonna and Kylie. We had it all going on.
Now, as a middle-aged person, saying I was seven when the eighties ended makes me feel so ooollllddd. Most of the kids I write for weren’t born for another ten to fifteen years after the eighties ended. And, ironically perhaps, they think the eighties were cool. They think of The Smiths, The Cure, The Breakfast Club. Pastel suits are so hipster ironic.
And I wish I’d been older when the eighties ended, just so I could earn some street cred by saying I was there.
But my point (and I do have one), is that the eighties is the era in which the latest book in my blog tour of Australia was set. And gosh darn does it make the eighties look amaze. No bubble skirts here. Strictly (school-shoe-style) Doc Martens, bleached pixie cuts and arty, brooding, Nick Cave-y men.
I really wish I’d been there (in a non-small-child capacity).
I knew about the art heist that’s central to this story, not from having been a cool arty type during the time when it happened (sob), but from studying art history, much later. And I wasn’t even a cool art history student – to be one of those you had to, like Luke in this story, not give a f***. I won the art history prize at school. So not cool. I remember the episode intrigued me as a seventeen-year-old who wished she was a rebel. Having discovered that the new book by the incredible Gabrielle Williams concerned this very event, I’d been dying to read it.
So much so that I returned to Victoria, when I was meant to move on to another state in my “hop” (oops).
And the book did not disappoint. I was transported back to an era I never properly lived in, and to a place where I’ve never lived, but about which I’ve always been fascinated (oh, Melbourne, if I didn’t love Tassie so much, I would be all of the in you). Its melding of young adult and new adult characters was refreshing and innovative (and gave enough variety for there to be at least one character you were rooting for – Yes, Penny was a bit of a frustration in her blind adoration of Luke, but how I felt for her). And the crime story at the centre of it made it a gripping, thrilling page-turner, too.
This book has everything, and more, because it’s riding on the crest of an eighties revival wave that will surely make it super popular with its target audience and their glorious constant adoration of all things retro (because, in the nineties, didn’t we love the sixties? And eighties kids were all about the fifties – Dirty Dancing, anyone?).
And Gabrielle Williams is the coolest of the cool kids. Apparently, this is the first in a few books in this series. Colour me excited.
*coughs* Now on to serious matters: TASSIE YA, WHERE ARE YOU??? And before you start yelling, “PENNI RUSSON!!! TANSY RAYNER ROBERTS!!! KATHRYN LOMER!!!!!!!” (If, indeed, you are the type to randomly yell the names of awesome authors), I’m trying really hard to only read books from 2014 onwards in this blog tour, and all the above authors, while still producing epically brilliant work, have eschewed the YA demographic for their latest stuff. And yes, Julie Hunt and Lian Tanner, and Angelica Banks are doing awesome things in kidlit, but they’re definitely not YA.
Until you all start yelling the names of Tassie YA authors that I’ve somehow missed, I’m going to have a tiny break again and read The Chocolate Promise, by Josephine Moon. It’s not YA. And its author is not Tasmanian. But it’s at least SET here, so that’s something …
Afterwards, if you haven’t barraged me with Tassie titles to devour, I’m thrilled to say my next read will be the newie by Nicole Hayes, One True Thing. Squee. But still, TASSIE! WOMAN UP!