Posted in Australian fiction, cyber bullying, Fremantle Press, Getting published, Lamont's Standing Order, Magpies, ReadPlus, reviews, Saving Jazz, teacher librarians, teachers, Uncategorized, writing, WritingWA

Reviews Saving Jazz

The book launch is nearly upon us and the reviews are starting to come out… so far, so good…

Writing WA:  Love to Read Local

In Saving Jazz, the lives of Jasmine Lovely and her friends are destroyed after a sexual assault at a party goes viral. The narrative takes us beyond the immediate aftermath of the assault and shows its long-term consequences, as well as the complicated moral landscape Jazz finds herself traversing. The novel deals with gender relations, the power of the internet, and personal responsibility in a comprehensive and compelling way; this is a book that will keep you up all night and keep you thinking for weeks afterwards. Saving Jazz is McCaffrey’s most powerful book yet, and it deserves to be widely read and discussed.

Magpies
Kate McCaffrey is known for tackling issues that may be prevalent in the lives of young adults, sometimes before these issues are recognised in the wider community. She has explored cyber bullying, drug use, abortion and eating disorders. Her new novel Saving Jazz is so confronting it gave me nightmares, but this should not deter people from reading it (except maybe at night) because it is an important cautionary tale.
Lamont’s Standing Order
Kate McCaffrey writes hard hitting, contemporary issue based novels and Saving Jazz is precisely that.
Jazz lives in a small, reasonably well off community north of Perth, where you make your own fun. This all gets out of control, when at an alcohol fuelled party, things are done to Jazz’s best friend Annie that Jazz had a part in at the start.
When one of the boys boastfully posts photo’s and eventually a video that lead to scorn for Annie and Jazz and rape charges for three people, including Jazz, their worlds are forever changed.
We see the result of this bad decision and its far reaching, devastating effects on all their lives.
The subject matter of this book probably makes it best suited for older secondary students, but in some ways, younger mature students would certainly understand the precautionary tale that is being presented.Well written, insightful and wholly believable, Saving Jazz can change attitudes and actions that could indeed save some.

Read Plus
McCaffrey has written a book that will be hugely popular, gaining an audience through word of mouth, readers taking to heart this cautionary tale comparing it with the ‘what might have been’ in their own lives and questioning the role of social media in their lives.
Advertisements
Posted in Book WInd, drugs, friendship, In Ecstasy, international rights, reviews

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

Posted in Books, CBC, cyber bullying, Destroying Avalon, Literary Awards, reviews, Uncategorized, writing

Children’s Book Council Celebrity Brunch

Last Sunday it was a privilege to attend the CBC’s Celebrity Brunch where the short listed books were reviewed. This year three wonderful students from St Stephen’s School Carramar were invited to review the Older Reader’s Section. After they came to terms with the fact their all time favourite English teacher’s book wasn’t on the list (though we all were delighted it made Notables!!) they set about reviewing.

Well, wasn’t I the proud teacher! My students (who I share with the Head of Department- actually they’re really hers, but I like to claim them) were  well spoken, intelligent and engaging, the three of them were wonderful ambassadors for the school. They opened the proceedings and then each celebrity reviewer stood up to make their contribution.

I had a light bulb moment. Now, this is going to seem patently obvious to most people- and it something I’ve paid lip service to myself (without really understanding) a review is just one opinion. I know- there is no great revelation here. But when you watch people stand up and deliver their review it puts into context the faceless reviewer. Reviewers are just people with their own likes and dislikes, their bad days, fights with their partners, annoying or delinquent children, they are normal, everyday people who have an opinion to express.

I guess I realised the scathing reviews (not that there’s been that many) but the ones I remember- before any of the praiseworthy -are just the opinion of someone who didn’t like something I wrote. Perhaps they’d been a victim of bullying as a child and thought I trivialised it, perhaps they expected something more of the book that I didn’t deliver, perhaps they just didn’t like the way I wrote. What I learnt was it didn’t really matter. I need to take on more of the praiseworthy reviews- because after all, these people obviously have more in common with me. Why should I disregard those reviews that praise my work in favour of the ones that diss it?

So, I have a new mind set with regard to reviews- one that I really hope I can embrace. From now on I will look at all reviews (good and bad- you never know there might be something to learn from the bad ones!!)and try my hardest to remember what the good ones say!