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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Those Kids from Fawn Creek by Erin Entrada Kelly

Reading Those Kids from Fawn Creek is a revelation. The style is effortless and the readability is second to none in terms of books released this year.

There is such a fluency to the prose and a real sense of place and purpose as Kelly explores the interweaving of plot and subplot throughout the novel. Certainly not a stranger to quality writing, Erin Entrada Kelly - a USA native - has previously been the recipient of the Newbery Medal for her wonderful Hello, Universe.

The narrative is set around small town life, which in and of itself provides ample opportunity to develop a whole cast of trope characters whose lives are endlessly fascinating and revelled over.

In Those Kids from Fawn Creek the destabilising event for this somewhat quiet and lazy existence is the arrival of Orchid Mason. Mason is a remarkably constructed character, perfectly poised between description and experience as Kelly finds development without any expense spared. By this one feels somehow connected to the characters, somehow responsible for their very existence.

The cast of characters, including Orchid, build towards the climactic event - being the school dance. Much is to be said about this build up from the revelation of feelings, experiences, sexuality, confusion, angst and, of course the typical conflicts and relational connection between young people.

Crafting dialogue for young people has long been the bane of the writer’s existence. It is nigh on impossible to replicate the cadence and intonation of young people’s speech, and still retain a sense of relevance that has the ability to be plausible and last the test of time when language amongst this group changes with what seems like the weather. Kelly flexes her literary muscle here, presenting strong characters with equally strong voices.

When one considers the setting, again there is a tangibility to it. It is easy to picture Fawn Creek as a place that exists in some US state that is totally disrupted by the city girl in the guise of Orchid who originates in New York City. Such lyrical characters really do provide stark contrast to the sleepy backwater towns like Fawn Creek.

This is a story about friendship, and about connecting with others in a tumultuous time of life. While this is clearly for a YA audience, there is much to be found and to enjoy through the experiences portrayed in this novel. It is a hard to put down tale with all the trimmings. Much loved, much appreciated.

Reviewer: Chris Reed

Text Publishing


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