Contemporary · Young Adult books

Take Three Girls, Simmone Howell, Cath Crowley & Fiona Wood

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An Australian book written by three authors and set in Melbourne, follows the lives of three drastically different girls. Clem, Kate and Ady all attend St. Hilda’s, an all-girls school where both Clem and Kate board. Assigned to a group together in a Wellness class, the three grow to become friends while finding themselves.

It was fascinating to see the versions of each girl in the others’ mind. They’ve seen one another around school for a while, and therefore they know each other’s reputation. Clem the sporty swimmer, Kate the brainy computer-wiz and Ady the stuck-up, popular rich girl.

Clem’s story is very stereotypical of teenage girl’s stories; wants to find who she is, falls for an older, handsome guy, becomes completely obsessed with him. Though she has a twin the two don’t get along, it’s like cats and dogs really. There’s no apparent reason for this; they came to St. Hilda’s, Clem wanted to her own room and that was it. It’s like normal sibling squabbling times two. Their disagreement appears to be long-standing and simply down to their personality differences. Stu, the boy Clem likes, was shifty from the beginning and it made it infuriating that she didn’t suspect anything. Yes, it did demonstrate her naïve like many teens in love, but it was still exasperating to read. I found her story slow and her character to be maddening, though I admit she is a successful representation of many teenage girls.

The brainy, tech wiz of the group is Kate, a girl who struggles with her parents’ expectations whilst devoting every waking hour towards her passion for music. Her passion is practically an obsession. She’s constantly thinking of new techniques while she’s supposed to be doing other things, like studying. Fighting such a deep part of yourself looks downright painful and you can sense this in each passage. Her two paths diverge when she has the opportunity to apply for a music scholarship to Iceland but in doing so will limit her chances at getting a scholarship for St. Hilda’s which her family desperately need her to get. In orchestra her fellow cellist, Oliver, infuriates her with his condescending lectures, yet to have a chance at Iceland Kate must pair up with him. As they begin to work together Kate develops feelings for him. I loved this character, but the storyline would’ve been more unique without the whole the-two-that-couldn’t-stand-each-other-yet-end-up-together. Paired with her interest in weird alternate cello music this point of view would’ve been the best of the three if not for the disappointing love story.

With the beautiful appearance of the rich popular girl, Ady seems like the confident Queen-Bee. Yet as we learn about her life it’s revealed she’s a secret clothing artist trouble by family drama. Like Kate she day-dreams about her art, visualising people in her fabulous outfits while attempting to keep up her demanding façade. Making genuine friends with the two girls allows Ady great relief to be herself. She isn’t even comfortable to be herself at home with her brother, sister and arguing parents. Through her viewpoint the reader experiences the hardship of having a family member with an addiction. Due to her family’s wealth, Ady is forced to uphold appearances no matter how tumultuous the situations. Though many characters are obsessed with fashion I loved Ady’s eye, her taste was a unique mix of vintage elegance and modern fashions.

Unfortunately, the e-book formatting was poorly lacking. There are pages that are designed like handwritten pages from a notebook. These pages were nearly impossible to read if it wasn’t for the new zoom function on the Kindle app I never would have been possible. My whole book club had the same problem, forcing many to buy the physical book as well. However, the physical copies had no formatting problem.

This book would be suitable for mid to late teen readers, young people who are trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives. The middle section was slow and the storyline following PSST was incredibly so, only getting resolved in the final chapters. Overall it was an enjoyable book and I give it 3/5.

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