Secret Scribbled Notebooks, by Joanne Horniman

I want, I want, I want…At this point I’m just a mass of seething wants, but what I want I’m not really sure of. (Like going to the fridge and opening it, ‘letting all the cold air out’ as Lil complains, and not knowing what it is you want to eat. You stand with the door open hoping that something will inspire you.) I’m standing with the door open at the fridge of life, and I want.

Preparing to leave school and making choices about your future direction are challenging for any seventeen year old. But for Kate, this is an especially confronting time. Abandoned as a child, with her older sister Sophie, she has never abandoned the hope that her father might one day come back and reclaim her. In her final year of school she has become discontented with her life in Lsimore, where she lives in a big boarding house with Sophie and Lil, the old woman who has cared for both of them since their father left. When Sophie’s baby, Anastasia, arrives, Kate buys herself three notebooks and begins to write about her hopes and her fears. More than diaries, these notebooks trace her path through the troubled months around her final exams, as she helps Sophie with the baby, prepares for her exams, and develops a relationship with a boy called Alex.

The style of the book – part diary, part random thoughts and part retrospective, flows well. Kate writes in different styles in her three different coloured notebooks and later adds in type-written commentary which binds the various sections into some sort of order. This mixture does not, as it might sound, make the book disjointed, but rather makes it feel real, as if it really is written by a seventeen year old Kate rather than by an omniscient author.

Secret Scribbled Notebooks is an evocative piece about growing up, moving on and about finding oneself. It will appeal to older teens, particularly girls and the many literary references makes it especially appealing to students and lovers of literature.

Secret Scribbled Notebooks, by Joanne Horniman
Allen & Unwin, 2004