Title: Puberty Blues
Author: Kathy Lette and Gabrielle Carey
Genre: Contemporary YA
Audio book narrator: Rebecca McCauley
Date Read: 04/04/2017
I think I can see how this book ended up a cult classic. First published in 1979, it encapsulates the youth culture of 1970s Sydney. But. While the language is completely authentic, it lost me on the content.
Puberty Blues tells the story of of Debbie and Sue, two thirteen-year-olds desperate to make into one of the surfie gangs that hang around Cronulla Beach. As they try to make it to the top of the social heirarchy, they learn about sex, drugs, boys, and ultimately, themselves.
First things first, Rebecca McCauley narrated the book perfectly. She had the Western suburbs accent down pat and this added to the authenticity of the book. There were times when I felt like I was listening to a three-hour Kylie Mole sketch, but this book is exactly the type of suburban Sydney life that Kylie Mole was parodying.
When Puberty Blues was made into a TV show a few years ago, they upped the ages of the main characters to sixteen, and I can see why they did, even if it did cop criticism. There’s something very uncomfortable about listening to a thirteen-year-old character describe a seventeen-year-old boy trying to have sex with her, or casually describing the gang rape of other girls from her school (obviously, the ages don’t matter at all there), or the fact that they would all spend their weekend dealing weed.
There was also the issue that while the characters were very well drawn, there was very little plot. I do wonder if it’s because I didn’t read this as a teenager that I didn’t connect with it. While I wasn’t the sort of teenager depicted in the book, there were certain things that would have still resonated. As it was, I had little to identify with.
(This review is part of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2017. Click here for more information).