The bouncer stares at my ID, his expression murky, his face tinted purple by the neon sign above us. I rub my bare arms. The temperature must have dropped five degrees in the last few minutes.
Neil hovers behind us, just inside the swing doors. He’s still wearing his work shirt, and everything about him is limp and sweaty. He twitches as if he’s about to step in and say something. I widen my eyes, trying to send him a telepathic message. Leave it to me. I have this under control.
This is Shyness is a novel in a night, where a boy named Wolfboy takes a girl called Wildgirl on a ride through the darkness. They meet in a pub. Not so unusual. Except she is underage and he howls. Then they cross the tracks to where he lives, where the sun doesn’t rise. In the endless night, they both run away from their usual lives. They take turns in the decision-making, but share the consequences of the decisions, good or bad. They meet musicians, agents, black marketeers, tarsiers, Kidds and more. Wolfboy and Wildgirl alternate between caution and bravado, a combination that gets them into and out of trouble. Because trouble is what they encounter most.
Shyness is a suburb where things are different. The darkness is a recent thing, but it’s getting worse. Both Wolfboy and Wildgirl have secrets which slowly emerge as they learn to trust one another. There’s a hint of the developing werewolf in Wolfboy, but only a hint. Adults, one in particular, are interested in finding out just what makes Wolfboy tick. ‘This is Shyness’ is told in first person, from alternating viewpoint of the two main characters, although not always chapter-about. Wildgirl wants to forget, even temporarily, her life. Wolfboy is trying to hold on to memories, closing himself down on them. Their night together – like no night imaginable – gives both the seeds of perspective, and the tools to move on. Recommended for mid-secondary readers and beyond.
This is Shyness, Leanne Hall
Text Publishing 2010
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
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