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BOOK REVIEW: The Flywheel by Erin Gough

BOOK REVIEW: The Flywheel by Erin Gough 

Hardie Grant Egmont
February 2015
Paperback, $19.95
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell

9/10

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Seventeen-year-old Delilah’s crazy life is about to get crazier. Ever since her father took off overseas, she’s been struggling to run the family’s cafe without him and survive high school. 

But after a misjudged crush on one of the cool girls, Del has become the school punchline. With all that’s on her plate, she barely has time for her favourite distraction – spying on the beautiful Rosa, who dances flamenco at the tapas bar across the road. 

All this leaves Del grappling with some seriously curly questions. Is it okay to break the law to help a friend? How can a girl tell another girl she likes her without it ending in humiliation and heartbreak? And – the big one – is it ever truly possible to dance in public without falling over? 

 

This book has a serious case of the ‘just-one-more-chapter’s. The chapters are definitely on the short side, with some only a few pages long, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to put this book down and get back to the things you were supposed to be doing.

The conversational tone, the likeable-yet-stubborn main character, and the variety of characters and friendships, all contribute to a story that feels like it could really be happening in the next suburb over.

The superficial stuff aside, I’ve been wondering lately whether we’ve got what it takes to be friends after high school. The lesbian thing has something to do with it. When I told Lauren I thought I liked girls, she said she was okay with it, but we never really talked about it beyond that. I don’t know what I was expecting. Maybe that she’d ask me how it felt, or how I knew, or what my parents thought.

This is a coming of age story with a gay girl in the leading role, but it’s not a coming out story. This is a story about the ups and downs of being a girl who likes girls, and the rocky road she must take through an already tough romantic landscape, while dealing with school, the family business, friends, and all that other stuff teenagers have to go through.

Whenever she comes in here she spends a lot of time tapping away on some essay or other, while I spend a lot of time giving her food on the house and trying to be witty in a way that seems nonchalant.
‘Hey,’ she says to me.
I blush. ‘Hi there. Um, how are. Would. What can I do, I mean, get-‘
‘A latte would be great,’ she says, smiling.

If you feel you’re not in the target group of this book, read it anyway. If you’ve ever had a gay friend, wondered – even for the shortest moment – about your own sexuality, or remember being a teenager, then this book is for you.

It deals with serious issues like dropping out of school, not wanting to ask for help, choosing between parents, and finding out where you belong, while at the same time giving you a big, goofy grin as you follow the antics of Del and her friends.

This is one of those books that I wasn’t aware I was missing out on, but am so very glad for having read it.

I can’t help but feel that this might well be the Looking for Alibrandi of this generation.

BOOK REVIEW: The Flywheel by Erin Gough

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