The World According to Renee

Views, Reviews, Short Stories and More…

Review: After the Blues

Hands up if you loved Puberty Blues. Hands up if you loved the film and/or the TV series. Hands up if you felt you were Debbie or Sue, making your way as a teen in a strange new world of sex and rat-faced molls.

Now, hands up if you want to see what Debbie did next.

According to the introduction, Kathy Lette reworked her earlier novel Girls Night Out into After the Blues. I have not read Girls Night Out so I can’t comment on how much of the original novel made it through the rewrite, however I can tell you what bits of Puberty Blues made it: the main character, Debbie Vickers. And mentions of her boyfriends Bruce and Garry. That’s it. Her BFF (did that term even exist in the 1980s?) Sue has mysteriously turned into Sarah, and in the first few pages Debbie and Sarah have a major falling out, leaving Debbie to fend for herself in the big city.

Honestly, I could not care less what happened after that. I found her time in the big city to be revolting, distasteful and downright boring. I didn’t give two hoots about the weirdos she met or why she chose to make the choices she did. She seems to like being a total waste of literary space. The “plot” was pointless, bordering on incoherent babbling, while the narrative lacked depth and feeling, which was the main driving point of Puberty Blues.

Unless you’re a diehard Kathy Lette fan, interested to see how a rewrite works, then give this book a very wide berth.

2 out of 10 bookmarks.

EDIT: Kathy Lette confirmed to me via Twitter that she had to change Sue’s name for legal reasons. Kathy Lette twitter confirming Sue’s name was changed for legal reasons


March 27, 2018 Posted by | Reviews | , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Bird

Cover of young adult novel, Bird, by Crystal Chan

Jewel has been living with the ghost of her deceased brother her entire life. After twelve years, her family are still shattered by Bird’s death. Is it too late to fix her broken family?

Bird is a novel targeted at young adults, however adults will also find something in the novel’s messages. The novel is reminiscent of Judy Blume’s Tiger Eyes with similar themes: grief tearing a family apart, a secret, sacred place where nature speaks, and how sometimes people just need to figure life out on their own.

The main theme of the novel is identity. Jewel feels like the unwanted burden in her family, born the day her older brother tried to fly off a cliff. Her mother is sad and angry, her father hides behind superstition, her grandfather cursed not to speak since the day Bird died.

Identity is important to Jewel; she does not know who she is within this broken family. She meets a boy who has his own identity issues. As a black boy adopted into a while family, he has never felt part of his own family either. He invents an identity to befriend Jewel, ultimately betraying he with his lies.

I really liked this novel. I loved the imagery and Jewel’s narrative of how the cliff’s secrets speak to her. Having an interest in science, I did find a couple of paragraphs I wanted to draw a red line through and send back with a “This needs more research!” Written in the margin… but that’s just me being pedantic. I loved how both John and Jewel want to be scientists when they grow up. I loved their intelligent conversations about geology and space exploration (except for the bits which were clearly and obviously wrong). Their friendship was platonic, which was refreshing: usually Young Adult novels with a twelve year old protagonist revolve around how cute the boy is and which lip gloss she imagined he’d like to taste when he kissed her.

If you loved Tiger Eyes, you will also love Bird.

8 out of 10 bookmarks

February 3, 2018 Posted by | Reviews | , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: No Easy Answers

In the wake of the Columbine massacre, everyone wanted answers. How could these two kids commit such a horrifying act? What was going through their minds? Could this have been prevented? Why did this happen?

Brooks Brown was friends with Columbine gunmen Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris. He uses this 2002 memoir to dissect their lives together to find answers. Although titled No Easy Answers, Brown’s recollections clearly indicate warning signs and puzzle pieces that no one put together.

I read this memoir after reading that of Dylan Klebold’s mother Sue, who asserted in her 2016 memoir that had she known what Dylan was up to, she could have prevented the massacre. Brown makes no such claim- he feels that his friends were entwined in destiny due to their toxic friendship.

Brown endured his own troubles post-massacre. Eric Harris, undoubtedly a psychopath, had made tangible death threats online towards Brooks Brown yet the police had not taken them seriously. In the days and weeks after the massacre, Brown and his family were discredited by the police although they were later vindicated and shown to be telling the truth.

It’s not easy being the friend or family of a killer. You’re forever implicated no matter what you knew (or didn’t know) and the subject of hate.

Brooks Brown clearly wrote his memoir still grieving for his friends and those they killed. Unlike Sue Klebold’s effort, he makes no apologies for being their friend. He’s just as angry and hurt as everyone else.

Further viewing:
YouTube “Brooks Brown” for a range of his media interviews.
Recommending viewing: Brooks Brown’s interview with Tom Brokaw the day after the shootings.

Further Reading:
A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold

9/10 bookmarks


March 24, 2017 Posted by | Reviews | , | Leave a comment

Allegedly – A Review

Allegedly by Sarah Monahan

You may remember Sarah Monahan as Jenny Kelly, the adorable youngest child of the Kelly family in Australia’s most successful sitcom, Hey Dad…!

You may also remember she triggered an investigation into Robert Hughes after allegations of sexual molestation.

If you’re looking for gory details, you won’t find them here. What you will find is an interesting story of a former child actor, her life after TV and the gruelling years between the initial allegations and the day he was found guilty. Even without the gory details, this is still worth a read although I felt it was celebrity porn: Where did it all go wrong?

Sarah has managed to move on from her early years, and the years between Hey Dad…! and her allegations are filled with interesting times, such as her strained relationship with her mother and travels to the US, where she met her husband and now resides.

If you’re a survivor of sexual abuse, you may find this a trigger for anxiety, or you may find strength and courage. If you’re reading it for gory details, give it a miss. But if you’re reading it for another side of former child stars, it’s worth it. However, I will warn you that it is terribly edited and you may find yourself scratching out words with a red pen.

Three out of five bookmarks.

May 16, 2016 Posted by | Reviews | , , , , , , | Leave a comment