03 March 2014

Review & Giveaway: just_a_girl by Kirsten Krauth

* From author for review *

just_a_girl is like no other book I've ever read.  Written by Australian author Kirsten Krauth, it's been described as: "Lolita with a webcam" or "Puberty Blues for the digital age," and now that I've read it, I'd have to agree.

Set in the Blue Mountains outside Sydney, just_a_girl is about fourteen year-old Layla, her religious mother Margot and a stranger on the train, Tadashi.

Layla is provocative, daring, reckless and a tease.  (The scene involving a Chup a Chup on a train has haunted me, and I don't think I'll ever look at one the same way).  At times I didn't like Layla's provocative and promiscuous behaviour and at other times she made me laugh out loud or hot under the collar.  She was both naive and mature at the same time, and the writing in her chapters was fast-paced and chock full of YA language.

Contrastly, Layla's mother Margot has no idea what her daughter is up to, and is primarily occupied with her Church and pastor.  Her sentences are long and wistful, and it's clear she hasn't recovered from her divorce after learning her husband was gay.

Tadashi has seen Layla on the train, and the reader is given a glimpse of his lonely and solitary life.  We soon learn that he is purchasing a companion doll (or Love Doll) from Japan to have a relationship with.  The chapters narrated by Tadashi were fascinating, and I could easily have spent the entire novel with him on his personal journey.

Not since reading Tim Winton last year, have I come across an author so eager to break the usual rules regarding dialogue and grammar, but Krauth does it successfully in just_a_girl, and it works.

Unlike other novels, just_a_girl doesn't seem to be heading towards a point in time or a particular event.  The author switches between the lives and perspectives of the three protagonists with seemingly no overarching plot set to crash together.  There is an overlap of consequences between Layla and her mother, and Layla and Tadashi at the end, but I'll leave that to the reader to discover on their own.

just_a_girl  is confronting and shocking and contains teenage sexual activity.  If I had a teenage daughter I'd be terrified after reading this debut novel from Kirsten Krauth, but perhaps that's the point.

I'd like to add a personal caveat to my star rating if I may: I would recommend  just_a_girl for readers aged 16 and over.  The novel isn't restricted by the publishing industry, it's just my own personal suggestion.

My rating = ****

Thanks to the generosity of Kirsten Krauth, I have an autographed copy of just_a_girl to give away to one lucky Carpe Librum reader.
Autographed copy of
just_a_girl by
Kirsten Krauth
up for grabs!

To enter: just_a_girl is an internet handle, alias or nickname. To enter this giveaway, what is/was your own internet handle or what would it be if you were a young teenager communicating in an online chat room today?

Eligibility: this giveaway is open to those with an Australian postal address only.
Entries close: midnight, Monday 10th March 2014.

Winner: will be chosen by random.org and announced no later than midnight Friday 14th March 2014.  The winner has until midnight Friday 21st March to make contact and provide a postal address.

Additional entries: those who Tweet about this giveaway (or RT), sign up to follow Carpe Librum by Google Friend Connect or via email after this post will receive an additional entry in the competition.  (Make sure you mention this in your comment/entry).

Good Luck everyone and thanks to Shelleyrae from Book'd Out for the introduction to Kirsten!

N.B. I forgot to mention that just_a_girl contains the most amazing description of a woman giving birth that I've ever read/heard.  It had me puffing at the end!

Would you like to comment?

  1. As a young teenager I might choose something like: Angel Wings.



  2. If I was a teenage today it would be 'crankyoldman' or something to eliminate the fear of predators.
    I've tweeted the giveaway @travodo88.

  3. Thanks Mary, I like that one.

    Misanthropic Eagle, crankyoldman is very clever. Thanks for the Tweet.

    You're both in the running to WIN a copy of just_a_girl.

  4. 'Miss Oh_So_Awkward'.


  5. Have Tweeted:

  6. Thanks so much Amber, you now have two entries in the giveaway.

    Good luck!

  7. I would of had something like "2shy4words"

  8. Hi Tracey,

    If I were a teenager I'd be "writer_girl" or "Imafaery" or perhaps "lost_in_Faera"
    Decisions, decisions


  9. Thanks for your entry Katrina, you and Wanda are now both in the running.

    I love writer_girl, that's a fantastic handle! When reading your second preference Wanda, I started thinking it was laughing my a*$@ faery, perhaps not a good idea? LOL!! (I get it now of course).

    Good luck ladies!

  10. My call sign when I was a atoning girl on two way radio
    Was Red Robyn

  11. Very clever Robyn, I love yours! Thanks for entering.

  12. Thanks to you all for your entries, this competition is now closed.

    Stay tuned for the announcement of the winner, and good luck!


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