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Saturday, January 03, 2009

Bookmark Days By Scot Gardner. (Girlfriend Fiction 9) Crow’s Nest, NSW: Allen and Unwin, 2009

Avril lives with her farming family in rural Victoria, Australia. She loves her life, although her family has had a feud going with their neighbours, the Carringtons, for about half a century. Actually, the feud is between the two grandfathers, Hoppy and Les, and they’re not sharing their reasons for the quarrel with their children or grandchildren, who are expected to go along with it. Their wives know, but they’ve continued their own friendship.

But a chance encounter with the Carringtons’ gorgeous teenage son, Nathaniel, and a late-night rescue on the road after a local agricultural show, begins to bring the families back together. the grandfathers don’t agree, of course, and work hard to stop the reconciliation.

As a teen romance, this sort of succeeds. It takes only about a week for the girl and boy to declare their love for each other - probably lucky they met, because there’s no local school where they can meet other teenagers; they study by correspondence. It takes a little longer for the families to bury the hatchet(literally in the grandfathers’ case). And no, Avril doesn’t, as the cover blurb indicates, have to stand up to her family. They quite approve of the blossoming romance, apart from Hoppy. She doesn’t even have to work to find out what the problem is: the two grandmothers finally tell her.

The chronology is kind of weird, if you’re reading carefully. Both old men are in their eighties, but while it’s implied that they fought in World War II, they wouldn’t be quite old enough for that. You only have to add up what you’re told of their history to work out that they would probably have been about fifteen at most by the end of the war. And then it takes another twenty-three years or so for them to start the quarrel. None of it is impossible, just - strange.

It doesn’t matter, really. Young readers are unlikely to notice or care. It does a nice job of depicting life in rural Australia, too.

An entertaining first try at teen romance by a writer better known for his boys’ books.

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