Sunday, November 14, 2021

Take Three Girls, by Cath Crowley, Simmone Howell, and Fiona Wood

A mandatory "wellness" class at St Hilda's creates an unlikely pair up.  To break up the usual cliques, the facilitator makes the students form groups based on thumb size.  As it turns out, queen bee Ady, smart Kate, and swimming champion Clem all have similarly long appendages, but at their school they would otherwise have no reason to hang out together.  To their surprise, as they spend the weeks of the program together, their personal lives begin to overlap and they grow close, especially when they all become targets of a vicious anonymous gossip website.

Team-written by three popular Aussie YA writers, this book explores identity and life choices.  Ady is dealing with her family falling apart as her father succumbs to addiction, Kate is having second thoughts about her career path, and Clem is making bad choices in love.  To a lesser extent, the website issue provides some ground to cover cyber bullying. 

The wellness class and its weekly writing prompts serve as launch points and themes for each stage of the story, which the authors each run with.  It's not a seamless process.  Team writing rarely works in my experience:  most authors have such different styles and those differences and egos turn the book into a competition as the authors try to control the story.  Here, as a three-way, the approach becomes especially messy.  At several points, you can tell that one author didn't like what another had done in a preceding chapter.  Sometimes the chapters overlap chronologically.  Sometimes, there are large gaps.  But what there rarely is is coordination between them and no great attempt to edit out the rough edges. It's great to have each girl have their own voice, but without an overseeing editor to iron out the rough spots, this is a bumpy ride. The approach is more distracting than clever.

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