15 April 2009


By James Roy

UQP. Young Adult, Australian. Paperback rrp $19.95

Guest Reviewer - Jo Burnell

James Roy's Town opens on the first day of a new school year at Secondary College. The pace is light and relaxed, just as you are on the first day of school. The characters are so real that I’m sure I’ve seen one or two of them as I walk to the station. I’ve been in so many conversations where the dialogue is just like that in the book, that I wonder if James has been listening in. Pubescent boys try to be seductive, but only manage to make me laugh. Other characters are arrogant, frightened, grieving, jealous or disconnected. Just as each of us knows only a small part of anyone else’s story, each character in Town brings insider knowledge and blind spots. Their assumptions are often far from the truth. That’s where the drama unfolds.

A different voice speaks in each chapter. No one gets to update their version of the facts. Chapter by chapter, perspective adds layers to the story previously heard. The full picture remains just out of focus, urging the next page to be turned, just in case the answer lies beyond. It’s a bit like a jigsaw puzzle - hard to put down until the last piece falls into place. Even when the last page is read, some gaps remain.

As I reflect on the experience of walking the streets in Town, I can’t quite put my finger on ‘why’ I liked the book so much. It is not neatly packaged. As each chapter closes, loose ends dangle. Not all questions are answered, just like in life. Perhaps that’s why ‘Town’ won the 2008 'Golden Inky', Australias only teenage choice award for literature.

You can vote for your favourite books in the Golden and Silver Inky Awards each year. For more information check out: http://www.insideadog.com.au/

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