A girl wearing reindeer ears and a name tag: Say Hello to Melanie drags milk through the checkout and shoves it into my green enviro bag. I’m almost sure I see a speech bubble appear above her antlers: I’d rather be anywhere but here.
I can think of more important things I could be doing at a quarter to seven in the morning than buying milk. I need to get home and check the net again. Year Eleven exam results come out today and my Wi-Fi has picked this morning of all mornings to go on the blink. Not a good omen. I’ve double-checked my mobile fifty gazillion times: No Messages.
Today marks the fourth day Jack hasn’t answered my calls, my textsies, emails, Twitter or Facebook. Four totally suck-worthy days of boyfriend incommunicado. That’s as long as we’ve ever gone without talking – a Guinness Book of Records qualifier.
It’s results day and Dennie can’t access the internet. Everyone in her family is a lawyer and it’s crunch time, career-decision-wise. Her boyfriend is AWOL, her best friend has a problem…and…and…it seems everyone wants a piece of Dennie, except when they don’t and they should. Then there’s Clara, friend of Mum’s who doesn’t have a care in the world; a suddenly turning up sister, a secret-sharing mother, an oddly-loquacious overseas brother and Dennie’s head is spinning. Everyone wants to know when she’s going to choose law, like all the rest of the family. Dennie sees them so sure and her insecurities feel like the worst secret in the world. This is going to be her toughest Christmas yet, if she makes it that far.
Yes, Dennie is a stresshead. But she’s got good reason. She seems to be the go-to girl for everyone’s troubles. Her family is united by their connection to law, but for a group of people who talk for a living, they seem to struggle with talking to one another. Like most families, they rub along together without really talking. And when summer heats up, so do emotions in this household. Dennie seems to be the calm one, although she is prone to sudden not-so-tactful outburst. As it must, the pressure begins to tell and Dennie can no longer hold all the secrets, all her fears inside. Help comes from surprising places. And Dennie learns that no one, no one, is exactly as they appear. This is high – almost camp – drama: serious and funny all at the same time. Recommended for mid-secondary readers.
Stresshead, Allayne Webster
Omnibus Books 2011
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
This book can be purchased from good bookstores, or online from Fishpond.