All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

I’ll Tell You Mine – Pip Harry

on May 6, 2012

I’ll Tell You Mine
Pip Harry
University of QLD Press
2012, 251p
Read from my Mt TBR Pile of Doom

Kate Elliot has a terrible secret. Something so horrible that she can’t even bear to speak it out loud. And now Kate’s mother, who can barely look at her has decided that they need some space. Kate isn’t happy at home, has been acting out and the best thing might be for Kate to become a boarder at the school where she is usually a day girl.

Even though she’s attended the school since year 7, Kate hasn’t made many friends and she doesn’t know much about the boarding aspect. She’s horrified when the rules are read out and when she discovers that she’ll be sharing with 3 other girls – bitchy Harriet, swim star Jess and Maddy, branded the school slut. Kate is a Goth – she’d different in just about every way to the other girls. She doesn’t fit in as a boarder any more than she fit in as a day girl. She’s branded a freak – and that’s without anyone even knowing her terrible secret.

At first Kate is determined to keep her distance from everyone, closing herself off and looking for chances to break the rules. But Maddy sneaks in under Kate’s radar and the two develop a friendship that becomes deeply important to both of them. They are both struggling with issues – Maddy lost her mother to cancer recently and her ways of coping have led her to be judged by the other girls. Except Kate. Kate is too used to being judged herself to do it to anyone else.

Through Maddy, Kate has even found a nice boy that she could like…one that would actually give her the time of day, unlike Nate, the boy she has been pining after. Kate finds herself with fledgling hopes – she’s become used to the routines of boarding school, she has someone she can talk to in Maddy and she has the possibility of a sweet romance. But she fears she could lose all these things if anyone were to discover her terrible secret and the thing is…secrets? They have a way of always coming out.

One of my favourite new discoveries this year is the VeganYANerds blog. I saw a review for this book and immediately filed it away to pick up some time – Aussie YA is so amazing and this book ticks most, if not all of my boxes. Boarding school? I love boarding school novels. Blurbed by the amazing Melina Marchetta? Have to read it!

As much as I love boarding school novels, they are often pretty fanciful. Big rooms, kids coming and going as they please, relatively little going on in the ways of classes and work. I didn’t go to boarding school but I did spend two years on campus at University and I think there’s definitely some similarities. What I appreciated, what I loved about this book was the realism. And it extended from the characters, from Kate to her family to the girls at the boarding school to the boarding school itself, the fact that the girls shared rooms, the disgusting meals they were served (oh did it bring back memories of my time in the dorms, eating at the catered dining hall), Kate learning to do her own laundry. There is such an authenticity in every layer of this novel, starting with the beautiful, broken relationships between the members of Kate’s family. Her mother is a busy politician, slowly spending more and more time away from home and away from the family. Her easy-going father is mostly a stay at home dad, a surfer who remembers the days when Kate’s mother liked to travel to music festivals and let her hair down a bit. They are unhappy, fighting and it’s rubbing off on Kate and her younger sister. Kate is at that age where she’s starting to push boundaries, where she’s seeing her parents say one thing and do another and doesn’t see why she should conform if other people in the family aren’t making the effort. She feels that they are abandoning her, wiping their hands of her by sending her to board even though she knows that what she did was utterly terrible.

Whilst the reader is quite easily able to figure out Kate’s secret, for me, it didn’t lessen the shock of the reveal at all. Kate is clearly going through a lot of things – she’s very angry, she’s very confused and she’s very hurt and no one is really taking the time to talk to her. People are talking at her which isn’t really helping her at all. Kate is young, so her reactions can be partially accorded to that but she’s also out of control. She needs calming down, she needs structure and she needs to feel as though she is worthy. Interestingly enough, boarding school helps her. What she believes is the worst thing that could’ve possibly happened slowly begins to bring out the best of her and she begins to mature and find the strength she needs to address her issues with her parents and actually talk about them, instead of yelling, storming off to her room and slamming the door.

I’ll Tell You Mine is a fabulous book – beautifully and sensitively written. Pip Harry is an exciting addition to the very talented stable of Aussie YA authors out there and I’ll definitely be on the lookout for her future releases.


Book #75 of 2012

I’ll Tell You Mine is the 27th novel read and reviewed for the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2012

4 responses to “I’ll Tell You Mine – Pip Harry

  1. VeganYANerds says:

    Wonderful review! I am so glad each time someone reads this and enjoys it 🙂 I love your point about Kate needing structure, you’re spot on in that observation!

    And thanks for the mention, I am happy to have found your blog too 🙂

    Mands xox

  2. Skye says:

    Great review. I enjoyed the novel as well 🙂
    New follower.

    — Skye

  3. […] books that fall into this category include: I’ll Tell You Mine by Pip Harry (reviewed by Bree at All the Books I can Read), Notes from the Teenage Underground by […]

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