Cafe Chat with Kate O’Donnell

Untidy TownsSeventeen-year-old Adelaide is sick of being expected to succeed on other people’s terms. She knows she just has to stick it out at school for one more year and then she’ll be free. Instead, she runs away from her fancy boarding school back to her sleepy hometown to read and dream.

But there are no free rides. When Addie’s grandad gets her a job at the local historical society, she soon finds out that it’s dusty and dull, just like her new life. Things change when she starts hanging out with Jarrod, a boy who seems full of possibilities. But it turns out he’s as stuck as she is. And Addie realises that when you want something in life, you’ve actually got to do something about it.

Wow. I’d been excited to read Untidy Towns for quite some time, mainly because it’s #LoveOzYA and it has a gorgeous cover. (Yes, I’m superficial. Deal with it.) But when I finally got the chance to read it, I loved it even more than I expected. So much so that I’d consider it to be in my top five #LoveOzYA books of the year. The characters were just so authentic and the story itself was beautifully written and one that I could connect to on such a personal level. Kate O’Donnell absolutely blew me away with her debut novel, and I’m so excited to read whatever she releases next.

Adelaide felt like such a genuine character, and I know that so many high school students will be able to relate to her. She posed some of the same questions as I did, and I’m sure so many other teens do when at high school. How does regurgitating everything the teacher says in an essay make you ‘smart’? Why do our scores at the end of high school have to define where we can go to university and what we can study? Does high school really prepare you for the real world? Like Adelaide, it was really in my last year of high school that I became more aware of the restricting nature of that kind of a learning environment, and realised that I had to just play the game.Read More »