Aussie Reads: The Shadow Girl

Hey, Escapists!

Today I come to you with a review of an Australian book I just read. Which you probably got from the title: Aussie Reads: The Shadow Girl.
I don’t know how many reviews I’ll do, but I want them all to be Australian. Why? Well, we all know that book publishing is a small market. That’s what I’ve heard, anyway. And in Australia the book industry is a hell of a lot smaller than that.
Unless they have been a part of an international bidding uproar (Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James) or have been made into movies (Tomorrow When The War Began by James Marsden), most of you guys probably haven’t read much good Australian fiction.
Well, that’s about to change.
I bought The Shadow Girl by John Larkin from a local bookstore. I was having trouble what to decide and then I saw the cover. I picked it up; read the blurb. Sold. See what a lovely cover can do? The quote at the top helped too:
Tragic, comic and epic, THE SHADOW GIRL is as devastating as it is inspiring.” –Marcus Zusak, author of The Book Thief.

Here’s the blurb:
I tried to be forgettable.
That’s how I survived.
The shadow girl never imagined she’d live on the streets. After her parents disappear, life with her aunt and uncle take a sinister turn. Terrified that the authorities will believe her uncle over her she flees.
She tricks her way into a new school and pretends to have a loving family. No one knows she sleeps in rail years, sand dunes, and abandoned houses. At school she meets the author she will call on years later. Over time, they piece together the story of how she survived, who helped her, and the friend she wishes she could have saved.
Thrilling, profound and blackly funny, The Shadow Girl is John Larkin’s best and most important novel to date.

The Shadow Girl was “inspired by a true story” as it says at the very start of the book. This is what really got me most, considering the story. We never find out the MC’s name, not in the entire story, not even what she looks like. It works. It totally works. Because it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what her name is or what she looks like, because she could be anyone. There are heaps of people living like the Shadow Girl, this is just one story.

In the book for some chapters (all of which are not numbered, but titled), the MC is talking with an author (mentioned in the blurb) and she’s telling the author her story. That’s why she doesn’t want her name, or any names of the places or people she’s talked about to be written down because it will then be published. You find out why she doesn’t want this early on. But, from the fifteen years I have spent as an Australian I can tell you it was Sydney. I shall leave how I knew that for you to puzzle over.

The Shadow Girl made me cry. Twice. This is a thirteen-year old girl riding the trains, escaping from her shitty (sorry) home life. Thirteen. The way she deals with everything, with food and money and sleep is just, it’s amazing. It shows the best and worst of our world. Awful, horrible, malicious people, and those amazing, sweet, kind-hearted souls that are willing to help a girl with nothing.

The stuff that this MC goes through is shocking, but she is so strong through it all, and there are others there that are strong for her and help her. She’s sleeping in rail yards and yet manages to get herself to school. The second school in The Shadow Girl  shows just how much a school can help a child in need, and how even writers like us can make a difference in someone’s life by simply visiting.

The MC is smart, too, and has this dark, sarcastic humour that I love. There are times where she is childish and makes some dumb mistakes, but that’s life. That happens. It’s how you deal with it. And she’s a kid, anyway.

I don’t want to give too much away here, and that’s hard because there is so much I want to rave over about The Shadow Girl, but I shall restrain myself.
You have to read this book. It’s inspiring, and tear-jerking and brutally honest. You will never regret reading this, I promise you.

Over and out. 

P.S. I just got accepted to be a Random House Book Buddy! “As a Book Buddy, you will be helping us out by giving us your opinion on a variety of book-related things. You’ll be getting manuscripts to read so you can give us some feedback and sometimes we will send you different titles or cover images for a book so you can tell us which one you think is the best.”

Advance manuscripts, pretty covers? YES. 


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