Steph Bowe is basically my idol.
She published her first book at the age of sixteen, the age that I was writing a book about a girl getting home-schooled by her granny – a book that included a talking spider for no particular reason. Needless to say, Steph Bowe’s first book was better than that. In fact, it was incredible, and having now read all of her books, I have to say that NIGHT SWIMMING is my favourite.
One of the greatest things about Steph Bowe’s books is that they’re all delightfully kooky.
And NIGHT SWIMMING is chock-full of weirdness. You’ve got a goat called Stanley, and a family business of making goat soap. You’ve got mysterious crop circles that are being made. You’ve got Clancy, who is just wonderful and adores musicals and is also Chinese-Australian.
And Kirby’s character voice just jumps off the page. She honestly feels like a real person, and it’s the kind of voice that made me fall in love with THE HATE U GIVE. Kirby is different to Starr, of course – she’s funny and witty and a little dorky, and it was a little like RADIO SILENCE but with Aussie humour.
I’ve now compared it to two different books, but make no mistake: NIGHT SWIMMING is uniquely its own, and uniquely diverse and funny in a rural setting, where most other Australian YA books fail.
There is also, of course, the adorable romance (as promised in this title).
Initially there’s a bit of a love triangle (but not really). It’s a love triangle between Clancy, Kirby and the new girl, Iris (who is Indian/New Zealander/Australian, btw). But alas for Clancy, he’s not really her type, and Kirby and Iris are my new OTP.
I also loved how much Kirby cared about her granddad.
He has dementia and she’s so patient with him, going out with walks (along with Stanley the goat, of course) with him and generally just taking care of him.
Basically it’s brilliant and adorable and diverse and funny, and made me want samosas and/or scones and/or a bag of mixed lollies.
(All three would be good, actually)
If you’re looking for diverse #LoveOzYA, look no further. And also check out Steph Bowe’s other books, which are fantastic too.
(four and a half stars)
Imagine being the only two seventeen-year-olds in a small town. That’s life for Kirby Arrow—named after the most dissenting judge in Australia’s history—and her best friend Clancy Lee, would-be musical star.
Clancy wants nothing more than to leave town and head for the big smoke, but Kirby is worried: her family has a history of leaving. She hasn’t heard from her father since he left when she was a baby. Shouldn’t she stay to help her mother with the goat’s-milk soap-making business, look after her grandfather who suffers from dementia, be an apprentice carpenter to old Mr Pool? And how could she leave her pet goat, Stanley, her dog Maude, and her cat Marianne?
But two things happen that change everything for Kirby. She finds an article in the newspaper about her father, and Iris arrives in town. Iris is beautiful, wears crazy clothes, plays the mandolin, and seems perfect, really, thinks Kirby. Clancy has his heart set on winning over Iris. Trouble is Kirby is also falling in love with Iris…
~ Thanks to Text Publishing for the review copy (and the goat soap!) ~
If you had a goat, what would you call it?