From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-In this novel in verse, Luke, Casey, and Bongo stand on the brink of graduating and leaving home. All three struggle to decide who they are and what will come next. Luke is a star cricket player, but knows he wants more. Casey longs to climb out from under the thumb of her overbearing father. Bongo mourns the loss of his brother to child-protective services while living with an absent addict mother and abusive stepfather. The Australian teens tell their stories in succession, with each one overlapping slightly so as to deepen scenes already depicted, push the plot forward chronologically, and bring the protagonists back together by book's end. While Luke is a somewhat less vividly drawn character than the other two, he likely suffers slightly from his position as first narrator. The pacing can be inconsistent, leaving events underdeveloped (such as a friend's death toward the end). Ultimately, however, what stands out are the teens' authentic voices. Cameron superbly renders characters who never feel like caricatures. Though all are down on their luck to various degrees, Luke, Casey, and Bongo are not on the downward spiral of characters in an Ellen Hopkins novel. Depictions of their struggles are correspondingly tempered. Sex scenes, for example, are in no way graphically depicted. Redemption comes quickly to these highly likable characters in a tale to which many teens will relate.-Jill Heritage Maza, Montclair Kimberley Academy, Montclair, NJα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Luke, Casey, and Bongo are classmates and friends, part of a larger group of teens who are at the end of their school careers and trying to figure out what life holds in store for them. Luke is earnest and reliable, considering a future where he can be of use. Casey is painfully aware that her parents married because she was on the way, and longs to escape from her controlling father. Bongo, trying to avoid his abusive stepfather, wants to be reunited with his younger brother, Dylan, who was taken away by social services because their mother struggles with drug addiction. Cameron’s debut is a novel in verse, and each character gets a chance to tell part of the story. There is some overlap between the three parts, but mainly each section extends the narrative, and Casey’s is the longest and most developed. The struggle for the three teens to leave “this place,” which is physically and spiritually different for each, is told with honesty and hope. The book is left open-ended, reinforcing the idea that—just like life—the story continues. Grades 9-12. --Kara Dean