A beautiful cover is matched by terrific story-telling in this coming-of-age story of the smart and funny, Clancy. Funny and heartfelt and perfect for the over 15s.
What the back cover says:
In a dead-end town like Barwen a girl only to be a little different to feel like a freak. And Clancy, a typical sixteen-year-old misfit with a moderately dysfunctional family, a genuine interest in Nature Club and a major crush on the local hot girl, is packing a capital F.
As the summer begins, Clancy’s dad is involved in a road smash that kills two local teenagers. While the family is dealing with the reaction of a hostile town, Clancy meets someone who could possibly—at last—become a friend. Not only that, the unattainable Sasha starts to show what may be a romantic interest.
In short, this is the summer when Clancy has to figure out who the hell she is.
Usually it takes more than a good cover to suck me into a book. (Especially as I mostly read on kindle). But the cover of this one totally hooked me.
It’s just gorgeous isn’t it? And evocative too – speaking volumes of the teen desire for freedom, amid the search for identity (the hair covering the face – brilliant).
Then there’s the title – a clever play on the Banjo Patterson standard, Clancy of the Overflow, a great Australian favourite.
So, without having read a single word, my interest was piqued. Then I started reading.
She’s got this nearly chinless face, which isn’t as bad as it sounds because she’s European and her nose bends over in a poetic way. And she’s small, birdy, gorgeous. She dresses in silk blouses the colour and texture of cream. Pencil skirts that have an actually pencil shape: that sort of perfect thing.
Eloise and me. She’s thirty-two, voluptuous, perfect. I am sixteen, with the physique of a tree frog.
After two paragraphs I was hooked. What a confident beginning! What a distinctive voice!
For the first few pages, I wasn’t sure if Clancy was a girl or a boy, gay or straight. But I like that uncertainty. It reinforces the whole point of this book – that teenagehood is a search for identity.
While the themes of this book will be familiar ground for YA readers, what sets it apart is Clancy herself.
She is a wise-cracking, BMX-riding, self-deprecating tomboy and part-time makeup seller, who hides her vulnerability with humour. But beneath the jokes is a young woman, desperate for familial, platonic and romantic love.
Sometimes, the first-person voice can feel claustrophobic. But not in this case. Christopher Currie has done a brilliant job of making Clancy’s head a fun place in which to reside. His powers of observation are acute and he handles the issues around Clancy’s sexuality with sensitivity.
I am obsessed. I am paralysed. I am in love. I am whatever it is when you’re my age and you’re adrift and all your hormones are holding a cold gun to your head. But it’s all about a girl. Is this a minor details? Does it even matter?
When I started reading, I knew I was completely outside of the target market for this book, but it didn’t matter. A piece of my 16 year old self will always reside in my heart – it’s the part that yearns for romance and freedom and is filled with excitement for the future.
You never want to grow out of that.
For more information about Clancy of the Undertow, visit Text Publishing.