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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Just Finished Reading... Green Valentine by Lili Wilkinson. Melbourne:Allen and Unwin, 2015

When Astrid and Hiro meet they give each other superhero names. She's Lobster Girl and he's Shopping Trolley Boy. Not an auspicious beginning. But it gets better. Then it gets worse. Much worse. Classic romantic comedy: girl-meets-boy, love blossoms, and is derailed.

Environmentalist girl meets comics-loving boy while wearing a lobster costume, then realises this intelligent, funny, likeable boy is the one who has been getting into trouble non-stop at school, while she is a straight-A student of a kind he sneeringly calls Missolinis. He has fallen in love with Lobster Girl - how to tell him who she is, while he's sulkily doing a term's worth of detentions in her woeful kitchen garden at school? 

Hiro is a fabulous gardener - he has an Italian Nonna who grows all her own food. Together, Astrid and Hiro do some late-night guerrilla gardening in their dull, ugly suburb, Valentine, saving the world one fruit, flower and vegetable at a time, and growing their romance as well. 

But the local council and the developers have plans that don't include gardens...

A typically humorous, over-the-top Lili Wilkinson novel which girls should enjoy. Astrid may be a straight-A nerd, but she's also a klutz you can't help liking. If you want a kick-ass heroine, forget it - but few kick-ass heroes/heroines are to be found at your local high school in real life. And however useless she may be at getting her environmental message across in her suburb, Astrid is passionate about saving the planet. 

Astrid's friends in the school's popular group are not snobby or cheerleader types. They're kind and helpful, patient even when she makes excuses for not being with them(she's out gardening and has to keep it quiet). Paige is the girl all the boys want to date(Astrid gets to date her refusals) and Dev is openly gay and no one is harassing him for it. It must be a nice school where not only is no one using "gay" as a pejorative term but the nerds are popular!  

Lili Wilkinson is herself a keen gardener, and it shows. Her love of things that grow shines through. 
And for romantic YA comedy, there's no one better. Sometimes, you just don't feel like vampire/werewolf/fallen angel romance and just want something funny and gentle. When our girls come to me for a romance that doesn't involve any of the above, I steer them to the W's. 

That's when they are available; her books are rarely on the shelves in my school library!  


Terry Morris said...

Sounds like a really fun book. And I hadn't thought guerilla gardening as a super power through which to save the world, but just as a way to make the cityscape look more loved. Do more people want to plant things after reading this?

Terry Morris said...

Sounds like a fun book. I love the idea of guerrilla gardening, making the cityscape look more loved. Do people want to plant things after reading this?

Sue Bursztynski said...

I know I did. Though I'm about as good a gardener as Astrid. I have never been able to get herbs to grow on my balcony, for one thing, and it has been a long time since I've had flowers. :-(