Yellow is a powerful and touching novel, written by Megan Jacobson.
If fourteen-year-old Kirra is having a mid-life crisis now, then it doesn’t bode well for her life expectancy. Her so-called friends bully her, whatever semblance of a mother she had has been drowned at the bottom of a gin bottle ever since her dad left them for another woman, and not a teenage ghost is speaking to her through a broken phone booth.
Kirra and the ghost make a pact. She’ll prove who murdered him almost twenty years ago if he does three things for her: he makes her popular, her gets her parents back together, and he doesn’t haunt her. But things aren’t so simple, and Kirra realises that people can be haunted in more ways than one.
After all the #LoveOzYA books I’ve been reading recently, it’d be crazy to think that Yellow would slip off my radar. After absolutely adoring Frankie and then The Things I Didn’t Say, I just simply had to get my hands on a copy of this beautiful book. I had high expectations for this one, and I’m thrilled to say that my expectations were exceeded. It makes me so proud that Australia is home to so many talented authors who share such poignant, heart-stopping tales, and Yellow was definitely no exception. It addressed heavy issues, such as bullying, addiction, depression and friendship, in a raw and honest way, leaving the powerful messages it contains in my mind long after I turned the last page.
Although this book might sound like something you’ve read before – a girl at school gets bullied and her home life isn’t much better – its originality shines through the aspects that could be seen as clichéd and redefines what you thought you knew about the excruciatingly real aspects of teenage life. But not only does Yellow tell the story of a girl who’s dealing with so much at such a young age of 14, it connects with the reader and allows all of us to see a part of ourselves in Kirra. All of us would have dealt with similar situations when we were 14, whether that be bullying, not fitting in, having issues at home or feeling alone. It’s the most heartbreaking aspects of Kirra’s life that touch us most, creating such a deep and meaningful connection between us and her.
What I loved most about this novel was the gritty aspects of it. Yes, it was beautiful and heartfelt, but the raw, truthful way in which Megan Jacobson wrote about these issues allowed what could have been just another YA contemporary to be so much more than that. On the surface, this is a novel set in the lower class housing commission suburbs, closed in by bushland and beaches; and a place that seems so stifling and impossible to escape from for so many people. But beneath all that, it’s a supernatural murder mystery that weaves every element of the novel together to produce something quite breathtaking. Two genres that seem so different at a glance in fact work together to produce a moving and heart-stopping tale which is ultimately about a girl learning how to gain the courage to be the person she is, not who everyone else wants her to be. Such strong messages of feminism and the importance of family is a big part of what makes this novel so admirable.
Not only did the beautiful, poetic descriptions in this novel bring tears to our eyes and allow us to fully experience the gritty reality of Kirra’s life, it also enabled us to forge a deep connection to the characters, all of which were so well developed. The development in Kirra would have to be one of the most moving things about this novel. She’s first introduced as a shy, self-conscious teenager who’s bullied at school – and her big, bright yellow eyes don’t help that. But as the novel progresses, we see her transform into a strong, confident young woman who recognises that she isn’t beautiful despite her yellow eyes, but because of them. They are a part of what makes her her, and she learns to see that if people don’t like her for who she is and what they see, then she doesn’t need to make room for them in her life. Kirra’s growth was definitely one of the most touching aspects of this gorgeous novel.
Even the less prominent characters in this novel were developed and interesting, never ceasing to provide me with yet another thing to be in awe of. Megan Jacobson just seemed to fill these characters with life, giving each and every one of them hopes and dreams and shortcomings and unique traits. One of my favourite ‘minor’ characters is Willow. While I don’t condone people as young as 14 smoking, Willow was such a headstrong, determined character that I couldn’t help but love getting to know her. What I loved most about her was that she had a firm belief of right and wrong and refused to let anyone stand in her way. Although she had lived through situations that no one should ever have to deal with, Willow recognised that the only person who could help her achieve a better standard of life was herself. And I think, ultimately, that’s what this novel was about. It’s about learning to help yourself and realising that if you want something to change, you can’t wait for someone else to make it happen. Change starts with you. It starts with all of us. If we want to live in a different and better world, we can’t just keep waiting. We have to take action and work towards a better tomorrow so that our today will seem worthwhile.
Ultimately, Yellow is a poignant and unique story about a young girl becoming confident with being who she truly is. I can’t recommend it highly enough. I’d give Yellow by Megan Jacobson a score of 10 out of 10. It’s now time to discuss this book! Have you had a chance to read this one yet? Have you been loving all the other #LoveOzYA releases? Do you live in Australia? I’d love to hear what you have to say!
Thanks to Penguin Australia for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!