Review: ‘Finding Home’ by Lauren K. McKellarPosted: January 10, 2014
In the interests of starting as I mean to go on with reviewing works by Australian women writers (and other writers more broadly) on my blog, I decided to do a review of one of my favourite YA reads from 2013. Unlike almost everything I read, Finding Home is contemporary rather than speculative fiction. But, despite being outside my usual reading habits, it blew me away. (For the sake of full disclosure, I think the author, Lauren McKellar is very talented and cute as a button. I’m pleased to be able to call her my friend. But this hasn’t affected my review of this book. Trust me!)
When Amy’s mum dies, the last thing she expects is to be kicked off her dad’s music tour all the way to her Aunt Lou in a depressing hole of a seaside town. But it’s okay — Amy learned how to cope with the best, and soon finds a hard-drinking, party-loving crowd to help ease the pain.
The only solace is her music class, but even there she can’t seem to keep it together, sabotaging her grade and her one chance at a meaningful relationship. It takes a hard truth from her only friend before Amy realises that she has to come to terms with her past, before she destroys her future.
I devoured Finding Home in a day. While not everyone has a pop star father — who I imagine looks like an Australian Rod Stewart — Amy’s experiences with teenage parties and high school life are so authentic that most teenagers, and adults who remember what it was like to be teenagers, will be able to identify.
Amy makes some bad choices, but as a reader you’re taken on that journey with her. Even though you can see the trainwreck coming, you can still understand why she did what she did in each case. She sometimes acts like a brat but, although I wanted to shake her at times, I never felt her actions were unrealistic.
Most importantly, after she hits rock bottom she comes out the other side, a better person who has learned from her experience and does the right thing.
Finding Home tackles a couple of big teenage issues: problem drinking and unprotected sex. Amy’s mother is an alcoholic, and after her death it’s unsurprising that Amy struggles with the same issue. Like so many teenage — and, let’s be honest, adult — girls, she makes a bad decision while drunk. McKellar takes us through the experience and it’s aftereffects in a very realistic fashion, something I’ve never seen in a book before. And she manages to look at both issues without being preachy, something that’s vital in a YA read. Teeangers can smell a moral lesson like my dog can smell a pocketful of treats, but greet it with much less enthusiasm!
I give Finding Home five stars. I’m really looking forward to other books by this author.