A Letter From Luisa, by Rowena Mohr

Dear M
Hi There
Okay, this is weird! This is, in fact, a little creepy. I don’t think I can do this. Please don’t be offended. It’s not that I don’t’ want to write you a letter – it’s more that I don’t quite know what to say or where to start. I mean, this was Jane’s idea. She thinks maybe there’s a whole lot of stuff I wish I could talk to you about or something. She said it might make me feel better. But that seems a bit dumb. I just write a letter and suddenly everything will be okay? If that was the case everybody would be doing it. The universe would be choked with letters. People wouldn’t have time to go o work or have babies or go shopping – they’d be too busy writing letters to solve all their problems instantaneously.

Luisa is in control. It’s a tight balance, with school and friends and family and crushes, but she’s got it sorted. Until it goes horribly wrong. A Letter from Luisa is written in a series of letters from Luisa to an unknown person. The reader is aware that Luisa has been involved in something going wrong, and this is her attempt to give her side of the story. Her father is a musician, writing jingles. Her younger sister is a dreamy ballerina. Luisa’s best friend is a Japanese exchange student Meko, who is trying to find her own place at Motherwell High. Jet Lucas is a rock musician and Luisa’s crush. Then there’s a pair of bullies and Danny Baldassarro, who just won’t get out of her way. Luisa unravels her version of the time leading up to the catastrophe formerly known as the Motherwell High Twilight Fete.

A Letter from Luisa is told in first person, in the form of letters. It is only towards the end that the reader is told who the letters are addressed to. Luisa is a rich character who seems to be a fairly normal, if occasionally manic teenager. Only gradually does she reveal some of the cracks in the façade. Luisa is a teenager desperately trying to hold her world together. If only she could control events around her, she could manage everything. But like most teenagers on the brink of a new world, her vision and experience are nascent, and sometimes flawed. There are themes of bullying, love, friendship, and grief. A Letter from Luisa moves at a breakneck pace towards its conclusion, which although hinted at throughout is only gloriously, hysterically revealed in the final pages. A fun read, while dealing with real issues. Recommended for mid-secondary readers.

A Letter from Luisa (Girlfriend Fiction)

A Letter from Luisa (Girlfriend Fiction), Rowena Mohr,
Allen & Unwin 2009
ISBN: 9781741758740

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

My Life & Other Catastrophes, by Rowena Mohr

Tuesday 19 April 4.30 pm
Okay, let me get one thing straight. This is not going to turn into Bridget Jones’s Diary. I don’t know what I’m supposed to be writing in this stupid thing but I can tell you right now you’re not going to get any personal stuff. Mrs Parisi – she’s my English teacher – said that this is simply supposed to be an exercise in self-expression and even though we have to hand these diaries in at the end of the year, no one is actually going to read them. Like I’m going to fall for that one!

Erin is fifteen, starting Year 10 and trying to cope with a life that seems to be spiralling out of control. She has to write a diary all year and it becomes her confidant when she is sure no one else is listening. Her best friend is becoming distant; her father is unemployed and boring; her mother is dating the ‘creepazoid’, Erin’s PE teacher. Even her little brother Ben seems to be having a better life. Erin tries to be helpful, telling her mother her boyfriend is a creep, explaining life to her friend, and even advising her singing coach Brendan on what to do with his psycho mother. But no one is listening. Erin is on her own, determined to save her world.

My Life and Other Catastrophes is told in first person through Erin’s diary. Erin is feisty and opinionated and sure she’s right. About everything. Her world gradually unravels and the reader begins to understand some of the reasons for her sometimes irrational outbursts. Erin is struggling with the divorce of her parents, confused about her changing friendship, clueless about boys. She wraps her perceptions tight around her and will brook no other explanations. Every relationship is suspect, every motivation is suspect, no one is on her side. Erin’s diary is exquisite agony, the reader aware of her skewed observations, but laughing at her words. Themes include friendship, relationships, honesty, mental health. There’s also a healthy indication that keeping secrets is not always healthy. Recommended for lower- to mid-secondary readers.

My Life and Other Catastrophes, by Rowena Mohr
Allen & Unwin 2008
ISBN: 9781741752861

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.