Another Review- thank you Neridah McMullin

Crashing Down

Crashing Down by Kate McCaffrey (Fremantle Press)
PB RRP $19.99
ISBN 9-781-922-089-854
Reviewed by Neridah McMullin

Crashing Down is an engaging, insightful and realistic read for teenagers and adults alike.

This story is fast paced and fun and McCaffrey uses common turns of phrase that are engaging and accessible to today’s teenagers. Her writing voice and narrative is strong and genuine and written in an Australian cultural context that we would all understand.

Lucy is in Year 12 and under pressure to succeed. The last thing she needs is an intense boyfriend. So Lucy innocently breaks up with Carl at the school dance. She admits it wasn’t great timing with exams coming up, but it felt like the only way to keep her dreams on track.

Things haven’t been great with her and Carl for a while now and she knows this is the right thing to do. She feels completely smothered by him and his expectations of the future are so very different to her own. All he can talk about is living locally, with no plans of university, settling down and having kids.

Unfortunately some good decisions can have bad consequences.

Carl leaves the dance angry and hurt and stoned. Driving recklessly, he crashes his car, badly smashing up not only himself but also his best mate JD.

After coming out of his coma, Carl is a changed man. As a result of his brain injury, he’s angry and paranoid and acting completely irrationally. And he can’t remember breaking up with Lucy. She doesn’t want to hurt him so she keeps up the pretense.

Everyone is extremely upset and then McCaffrey throws in a curve ball that will send you into a spin: Lucy is pregnant. She tells Carl she doesn’t want to keep it and he has a brain aneurism! His parents then slap an ‘injunction order’ on Lucy to stop her from having the baby aborted.

Wow, this story has got it all. It’s fast past with a winding plot and complex characters. Even so it raises some valid questions about how these situations could be handled.

Crashing Down is written in a distinctive and engaging style and is thoroughly recommended to Young Adult readers.

This is Kate McCaffrey’s second novel and now I’m going to track down her first book to read!

Neridah McMullin is the author of five books for children. Her next book is an Indigenous folklore story called ‘Kick it to Me’. It’s an ‘aussie rules’ story that’s being endorsed by the Australian Football League. Neridah loves family, footy and doing yoga with her cat Carlos (who also happens to love footy!).

Crashing Down Launch

It seems appropriate to update this blog with the biggest news of late- my fourth novel Crashing Down was launched last night at Sacred Heart College Sorrento. It was a fantastic night, a turn out of about 140 people ranging from students, teachers, parents through to industry folk- oh, and of course, family and friends. Catherine Kolomyjec did an awesome job organising the event, aided by Emma Killian and supported by some of my Year 10 Lit kids- who were absolute standouts both in front of, and behind, the camera. News from my publisher is that the first print run of Crashing Down is already 3/4 sold! Not bad news to hear on the night of the launch.

Jan Nichols, in top form, dressed as a midwife to “birth” the new baby (the theme of the book being teen pregnancy). The celebrity guest in Norman Jorgensson (Jack’s Island and The Last Viking- to be launched in September at the State Library)  was a true crowd pleaser.

The reviews are coming in- the latest can be accessed via this link

https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/entertainment/a/24687616/pregnant-teen-faces-choices/

And so, a good night was had by all!!

CD Book Launch CD Book Launch 2 CD Book Launch 3 CD Book Launch 4 CD Book Launch 5 CD Book Launch 6 CD Book Launch 7 CD Book Launch 8 CD Book Launch 9 CD Book Launch 10 CD Book Launch 11 CD Book Launch 12 CD Book Launch 13 CD Book Launch 14 CD Book Launch 15

Crashing Down

Crashing Down

The jacket of Crashing Down

Crashing Down

 

My apologies for the wait between publications, but since Beautiful Monster was released in 2010, a lot of things got in the way- namely life! My dad died and that changed all the dynamics! Since then my family has made huge adjustments- moving houses, changing jobs, and all that fun stuff- but even though I wasn’t publishing- I was still writing. Now, the final proofs are in, the novel is at the printers- review copies are out. And so I’d like to announce to the world the birth of my fourth paperback baby… Crashing Down!

CRASHING DOWN

Lucy is in Year 12 and under pressure to succeed. The last thing she needs now is an intense boyfriend. Breaking up with Carl feels like the only way to keep her dreams on track.

 But good decisions can have bad consequences. 

 And leaving Carl is going to be a whole lot harder than Lucy could ever have imagined.

 

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 13,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 3 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

A Rather Long Hiatus

I’ve been relatively quiet of late, so many things have been going on that attending to my blog has been pushed to the back of my To Do list. So here I am to make amends.

What’s been happening?

Firstly, my lovely father Michael McCaffrey died in November and it threw life as we knew it well and truly off the rails. In that head space writing , living and just existing becomes challenging. Six months on and things have straightened out somewhat- big adjustments on a daily basis still being made.

In this time I have managed to write a novel– but it has undergone two major transformations and is now heading for a third! I have been having a problem deciding on the target audience, as it’s quite different from anything I’ve previously had published. But now, after meeting with my publisher, I have a relatively clear idea of where it’s meant to go and who it is for. Stay tuned!

In other news: beautiful monster was acknowledged as a White Raven 2011. This is taken from their website and explains what the acknowledgement means:

Throughout each year, the language specialists (Lektoren) at the Internationale Jugendbibliothek (International Youth Library / IYL) select recently published books that they consider especially noteworthy. This »premium label« is given to books of international interest that deserve a wider reception on account of their universal theme and/or their exceptional and often innovative artistic and literary style and design.

That’s pretty cool huh?

And then there’s more- this amazing kid has created a book trailer for Destroying Avalon and posted it on You Tube. I think she deserves an

http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DTrCGwTEbCus%26feature%3Dshare&h=b67a5

Check it out

 

North American Review of In Ecstasy

Drugs: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

 People hear about hard-core drug addicts, maybe see them in movies or even know a few in or from their school. But what if that junkie was your best friend of fifteen years, and suddenly you didn’t know that person anymore?

In the book In Ecstasy by Kate McCaffrey, this is what happens between best friends, Sophie and Mia. Sophie is the popular one, while Mia is more reserved and shy. So one night at a party when Sophie decides to try ecstasy, Mia follows her lead. Sophie enjoys the high and has fun, but for Mia it’s a completely different world. Ecstasy gives her the courage and self-esteem she lacks on her own. She is able to socialize with the crowd and even finds herself talking to one of the most popular boys in school. Mia has the time of her life. The girls attend a few more parties together, and each time Mia is determined to take ecstasy as a way to become this new, improved person. Yet as the time goes on, Mia doesn’t need Sophie anymore. She becomes attached to her new boyfriend, Lewis, and even more attached to this other person she has started to become. Sophie tries rekindling their friendship but discovers the duo no longer has anything in common.

Mia begins taking more and more drugs in order to successfully be this happy, popular, carefree girl. Her grades slip, she continually loses weight, fights with her parents and convinces herself Sophie is simply jealous of her new life. One night at a party at her boyfriend’s house, Mia is brutally awakened to not only the dangers of drugs but to the type of person her boyfriend truly is. Yet at this point Mia is so addicted that she will stop at nothing to get her fix. Meanwhile Sophie and Mia’s family are forced to watch Mia destroy her life.

To listen to various real-life drug addicts who discuss similar situations and emotions seen in In Ecstasy, check out this video. I really enjoyed this book a lot. One aspect that really stuck out for me was simply that McCaffrey does not lie about drugs. Through Mia, the reader sees that yes, drugs can make a person feel incredible. They can give them that extra courage or help they think they need to become popular and even make people believe their lives are better. Yet at the same time McCaffrey shows the true effects of drugs.

 Mia doesn’t become a cool, popular kid; she becomes an addict who potentially loses everything important in her life. I also enjoyed this book because it is told from both Sophie’s and Mia’s point of view. It is interesting to see both characters and their personal situations through each others’ eyes. It gives the reader a deeper perspective into the characters. I think this is an excellent learning book for students but I do not know if there is any way that parents and/or administrators would allow this to be taught.

 Obviously this book is primarily about drug abuse, but along with that there are issues of sexual assault, teenage sex, peer pressure, and theft. Because of these serious issues and fairly graphic details, I would recommend this book for older students who are mature enough to handle them. Additionally I might recommend this book to parents. Not everyone knows the signs to look for if their child is doing drugs, and I think this book is especially informative and honest about drug abuse.

Since this is told from two female’s perspectives, I also think girls might get more enjoyment out of this book than boys, although regardless of the gender, this is still a very informative book on drug addiction. As a whole, this book is entertaining, interesting, sad and extremely realistic. Mia and Sophie really come alive for readers, and I empathized with them throughout the book. These characters remind me that being an impressionable teenager is not easy, something that as an adult, I think it’s sometimes easy to forget.

Posted by Amy

Book Wind

Beautiful Monster

 

Beautiful Monster was released in May this year. It was picked up by Australian Standing Order- so that means the first print run is almost sold out! Very happy to attract their attention, although they did say that beautiful monster should win This Year’s Ugliest Cover Award!!!

Huh!

I think it is a beautiful cover- what do you think?

Here are some reviews of it so far:

“Tess hears screeching brakes.

A bang.

The soft whump Brodies body makes as it hits the ground.”

How often does a death in the family result in the death of a family?

Beautiful Monster-Kate McCaffrey is an unflinching and heartbreaking portrait of a teenage girl left to cope alone with her grief and guilt over the death of her little brother. As her mother drowns in her bereavement and her father struggles to maintain a sense of equilibrium for them all, Tess stands bewildered, lost and alone.

Tess has no choice but to turn to the one person who loves her, the one person who tells her like it is, the only person she can trust. Ned. Except Ned is the insidious voice of her guilt and self loathing. Ned is the sly whisper in the dark that she needs to do better, be better, try harder. Ned is the silky voice leading Tess into a personal hell where her desperate grasping at perfection soon sees her trapped in a downward spiral resulting in an eating disorder and a near brush with death herself. Far from glamorising anorexia, Beautiful Monster illustrates just how seductive a cycle an eating disorder can become.

Beautiful Monster also begged a painful question for me as a parent. In the face of the enormous and (I hope to only imagine) unbearable, anguish that comes with the loss of a child, where does the parent end and the person begin? Tess so desperately needs her mother, yet her mother is too engulfed in her own grief to see that she has a surviving child. A child who needs her. A grief she experiences because she is a mother. She was Brodie’s mother too.

And so Beautiful Monster becomes a study not simply of an eating disorder, but of a family mourning the loss of one of its own. A mother struggling to surface from the murky depths of depression and near madness. A father valiantly trying to be a husband, a mother and a carer. And a girl struggling to survive beyond the shadow of her brother’s death and ultimately her own failure to save him.

I live in awe of Kate McCaffrey. Truly I do. Her first book Destroying Avalon,  quite literally destroyed me. Few authors are able to capture a teenage voice as convincingly and inexorably as Kate McCaffrey.

More than once I found myself needing to put this novel down and remind myself to breathe. Beautiful Monster is one of those rare novels that will leave you feeling like you have been punched in the gut, not once but twice. I have no doubt it will take your breath away.

Thanks to The Book Gryffin http://bookgryffin.globalteacher.org.au/2010/05/04/beautiful-monster-kate-mccaffrey/

And…

It only takes a few blood-stained seconds for Tessa’s life to change forever. She wants her old life back. She wants her mum and dad the way they were. She wants her brother.

If it wasn’t for Ned, she’d be all alone. He’s her greatest support and staunchest ally. He’s privy to her deepest secrets, comforts her at night when she cries, holds her and makes her feel loved – when it feels like everyone else has gone. And he knows how to make things okay again. If Tessa can only be perfect, things will get better. The perfect daughter, the perfect marks, the perfect body. But there is a fine line between being in control and being controlled.

Wow where do I start?

Always tackling the important topics for young adults such as cyber-bullying (Destroying Avalon) and drugs use (In Ecstasy), Kate McCaffrey has done it again with Beautiful Monster, focusing on a young girl struggling through her teenage years who has developed an eating disorder following the devastating death of her younger brother.

Beautiful Monster not only deals with the primary issue of body image and eating disorders but also the grief of losing a loved one. As her parents suffer with their own pain, Tessa manages to slip through the cracks, hiding her own pain as she strives to reach her goal weight.

Told in three parts, two years separating each, we accompany Tess as she loses her brother, endeavours to be perfect and keep control over all aspects of her life, copes with her parents, hides her illness, suffers denial and isolates herself from her friends. Then, as her her secret is discovered, we see the aftermath of her treatment and the possibility of a relapse as old foes once again come to light.

Just like her previous books, Beautiful Monster is something every teenage girl should read.

Thanks The Tales Compendium http://www.thetalescompendium.com/2010/04/beautiful-monster-by-kate-mccaffrey.html

International Rights

Destroying Avalon

SO here they are, my little international babies- a Hungarian, a Korean and a North American- watch out Angelina Jolie I can have a rainbow family too!

Whassup?

Pics : Kate Mac, Jane  Mac & Jon Doust    Kate Mac, Liz Byrski & Jon Doust

Returned from Kununurra this week. I was flown up there to be a guest of the Kimberley Writer’s Festival. First impressions of Kununurra- man it’s hot! It might seem like stating the bleeding obvious- but for a city girl (whose furthest trip north was Monkey Mia, back in the 80s) I left hail storms in Perth to 37 degrees on my arrival!!! The other thing I noticed quickly- was unlike Monkey Mia, where they have dolphins, Kununurra has crocodiles!!! Several crazy authors dived from the boat and swam in the Ord- I wanted to scream, “People there are crocs in there!” But apparently the ‘freshies’ only take a small bite- unlike the “salties” who have a palate for humans. Either way I wasn’t taking any chances!!!

Writer’s Festivals are great in so many ways. Firstly you travel to exotic and remote locations (meet the locals and get eaten by them), you have an opportunity to discuss literature (and often yourself) to communities that often miss out and you get to meet other writers and illustrators. It’s like professional development for the Arts World. This trip was brilliant- I met some fantastic people. Here, let me list them:

Jon Doust- my favourite Perth author. Jon is the greatest ‘people person’ I have ever met. He was like the Pied Piper of Hamelin- with his trail of school kids who followed him everywhere.

Liz Byrski- my other favourite Perth author. Jane and I shared a place with Liz and it was wonderful- a girls’ weekend away, much laughter and merriment. Liz is a highly successful writer and shared a lot of advice.

Jeff Raglus and Vicki Phillip- musos and performers- what a fantastic team. Crazy cats!

Bruce Whatley and Rosie- they are lovely people and we shared some lovely moments.

Phil Kettle a most prolific writer of children’s books- somewhere in the vicinity of 5 million copies sold. I know, hold onto your hat!!!

Neil Murray- songwriter and poet (a lovely poem about step daughters), Anna Jarrett (story teller), Ambrose Chalarimeri (autobiographical writer).

We worked hard! Lots of functions, school sessions and public workshops, big thanks to Emma, Marie and Jo- for shuttling us around and catering to our strict dietry requirements (Jon and I are both vegetarians and gluten intolerant! Yes, we are those people! The caterer’s nightmare. But in my own defence at least I’m not lactose intolerant too!! Jon!!)

Then back to the real world- teaching, editing (my latest work) and spending time with my children! That’s the hardest thing about tours and festivals- leaving the kids. But they were pleased with the mosiac geckos and crocodiles in eggs I brought back!

What now? Book Week is coming up, I have a couple of visits to the Morley library. In October I have the Singapore Writer’s Festival and maybe a trip to Sydney. Did I mention that ‘in ecstasy’ won the Australian Family Therapists’ Book Award? I was so pleased- finally a gold sticker- it lives in Destroying Avalon’s shadow!!

I was on ‘the couch’- a Perth TV show aired on Aurora channel.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dV5Zy8UlrBw

It’s actually quite horrible to watch yourself talk!

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