I found a story.
Before I joined the team, our school newspaper couldn’t really be called a newspaper. It wasn’t fit for wrapping fish, and not just because it wasn’t printed with organic inks on unbleached paper. The typical headline was generally something like SOCCER TEAM TRIUMPHS or YEAR ELEVEN ADVENTURES AT ULURU. Nobody was interested in serious journalism. Except for me.
Since I came along, I’d written an analysis of the contents of the chicken-and-corn-in-a-roll sold at the school canteen (trust me, you don’t want to know – suffice to say it didn’t come from a chicken), an investigation into literacy levels in Year Seven, an expose on the teachers who smoked outside the back door of the staff room, and a variety of penetrating interviews, unflinching reviews and frank profiles.
There’s no secrets or doubt about Penny Drummond’s plans for her future. She’s going to be an award-winning journalist. Famous and wealthy and looked up to by all. But for now all she has is the school paper. And she’s after the killer story to start her career. When she discovers that a student has been posting on a Love-shy forum, she knows she has THE story. With her superior investigative journalism skills, she knows she will soon discover who the boy is. Then she’ll help him overcome his dread condition, he will be eternally grateful and her article will be amazing. So she sets about her task with a single-mindedness she is sure is unparalleled in the history of journalism. Nothing is going to get in the way of this great deed, this great article. Penny is bright, brash and opinionated. But she’s not always right.
Penny Drummond lives with her dad in a Melbourne-city apartment now her mother has moved to Perth. Her Dad is gay, and her mother is still in shock. Penny can’t quite understand her mother’s fleeing and has more sympathy for her dad. She’s sure she’s in total control. Sure her questioning of others sometimes yields responses not as revealing as she hopes, but that’s the journalist’s lot isn’t it? If you want to help others (particularly one love-shy boy), you have to ask the hard questions, make the difficult choices. Penny’s classmates are generally tolerant of her foibles, but she’s becoming obsessed and her always exemplary work is suffering. ‘Love-shy’ is told in first person, and the reader easily empathises with Penny, long before she begins to develop any insights herself. ‘Love-shy’ is a wonderful mix of humour and cringe, of a teenager learning her place in her world, and realising that introspection can be a useful tool, particularly in helping others. Recommended for middle-secondary readers.
Love-shy, Lili Wilkinson
Allen & Unwin 2012
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author