Isn't it enough having your very own terminal disease, without your mother dying? Or your father dating your Art teacher? No wonder Sacha Thomas ends up in the lake that Saturday evening...But the real question is: how does he end up in love with Jewel Valentine? With the help of quirky teenage prodigies Little Al and True Grisham, Sacha and Jewel have a crazy adventure, with a little lobster emancipation along the way. But Sacha's running out of time, and Jewel has secrets of her own.
Girl Saves Boy has a unique flavour to add to the YA scene. With it's quirky and off-beat vibe it's an intelligent novel that manages to convey hope among devastation and silliness alongside mourning.
The story is told from Sacha's POV and Jewel's POV.
The narrative isn't always linear in a sense of plot moving forward with scenes. It's got anecdotes and a running internal narrative of thoughts on life and death and the world in general. You know how sometimes you're thinking one thing which leads to thinking about another and another and so on and then you come back to original thought? Sometimes the narrative swirls along in that style, with quirky asides and observations.
The prose is gorgeous and charming. And it felt straight from a teen perspective - in the concerns of the characters and their outlook on life: sometimes jumbled, other times hopeful and also occasionally defeated. It reflected the braveness and conviction of teens but lacked hindsight that comes with adulthood - which gave it a true teen vibe.
I do think there was a lot going on in the novel in terms of tragedies and scarred pasts and tormented characters and dead people. It seemed overwhelming that they all had such complicated and devastating back-stories. Although the novel didn't just dwell on this aspect - there were plenty of moments of fun and general silliness.
Some sections were reminiscent of Brigid Lowry's Guitar Highway Rose - so much so that I would imagine that book may have had an influence on Bowe's writing style? And GHR is a dynamically brilliant book (as a teen, my friends and I were inspired to write our school writing assignments in a format similar to Guitar Highway Rose - I love that book hard. Diverting in my review here to urge anyone who hasn't read it yet to track it down - you can thank me after :).
Throughout the novel I was unsure where it was headed. I like the feeling of things lurking unpredictably up ahead but occasionally I felt like I was floundering a little in terms of following the main story arc.
I didnt always understand the characters motivations, but I kept flipping the pages regardless.
Like in many alternating POV books, I connected stronger with one POV over another (in this case, it was Sacha's).
It felt teenagery with it's many comments on clothing and what everyone looks like and how tall they are, etc. Kinda cute, that.
It's really an impressive debut and I haven't tried to be favourable in my review due to Steph's age. She's a bright talent and I imagine teens will find lots to love about this book and it's characters. It will appeal to guys and girls.
Girl Saves Boy was a quick read told in alternating point of views between Jewel Valentine, a loner girl whose family fell apart after the death of her brother 10 years ago, and Sacha Thomas, a boy who survived childhood cancer and lost his mother only about a year ago. They first meet at the lake where Jewel saves Sacha after he tries to drown himself. After that chance encounter, they start to fall in love.
Throughout the book, it seemed both Jewel and Sacha were unsure about their futures. One doesn't like to think too far ahead, and the other really doesn't have one to look forward to. It sounds like it would be a depressing read, huh? There are definitely sad parts throughout, but for the most part, there was actually a lot of humorous moments. Quirky is the perfect word to describe it. I never quite knew what to expect from the characters and the story next.
I almost gave this book 4 stars, but I didn't for a couple reasons. The romance between Jewel and Sacha was sweet, but it was rushed. I would have liked more development between them and more from the rest of the characters. I also didn't get enough out of the ending. I almost thought pages were missing from the copy I read. When books just end like that I feel sad. I know I'm suppose to use my imagination, but I needed a bit more closure.
Overall, I thought Girl Saves Boy was good for a debut novel. I've liked the writing in all the Aussies novels I've read so far, and this book was no exception. I hope to see more novels by this author in the future.
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