Five teenagers. Five lives. One final year.
The school captain: Ryan has it all … or at least he did, until an accident snatched his dreams away. How will he rebuild his life and what does the future hold for him now?
The newcomer: Charlie’s just moved interstate and she’s determined not to fit in. She’s just biding her time until Year 12 is over and she can head back to her real life and her real friends …
The loner: At school, nobody really notices Matty. But at home, Matty is everything. He’s been single-handedly holding things together since his mum’s breakdown, and he’s never felt so alone.
The popular girl: Well, the popular girl’s best friend … cool by association. Tammi’s always bowed to peer pressure, but when the expectations become too much to handle, will she finally stand up for herself?
The politician’s daughter: Gillian’s dad is one of the most recognisable people in the state and she’s learning the hard way that life in the spotlight comes at a very heavy price.
Five unlikely teammates thrust together against their will. Can they find a way to make their final year a memorable one or will their differences tear their world apart?
I received a copy of this book from the publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
The Yearbook Committee is the new release of Aussie author, Sarah Ayoub. I was lucky enough to be able to attend the launch party in Sydney and have Sarah sign my copy of the book! The Yearbook Committee is a wonderful depiction of high school life in the inner west of Sydney. It’s written from the perspectives of five very different students who all attend an elite private school, and are thrown together to create the 2016 yearbook. Working together forces them to learn new things about themselves and the world, and create new bonds that will last forever.
This is very much a character-driven novel. I loved our core cast of characters and I thoroughly enjoyed following them on their journeys of self-development. We have Charlie, the smart and outspoken feminist of the group, who is determined to hate Sydney after being forced to move from Melbourne with her mum and stepdad. She quickly finds herself clashing with Ryan, the school captain, who is struggling to find himself after an accident causes him to lose the thing that defined him and his future. Also part of the yearbook committee is Tammi, the popular girl’s best friend, who doesn’t have any control over her own life. She’s pushed around by her best friend, her boyfriend and her father, and isn’t allowed to be who she wants to be. We also have the politician’s daughter, Gillian, who struggles with the spotlight that’s always on her and her family. She is constantly criticised and bullied because of her public presence. And finally, there’s Matty, the scholarship kid who doesn’t really fit in with the rich kids who attend the school. He works multiple jobs while he waits for his mother to snap out of her breakdown. But it’s been months and she doesn’t seem to be getting better…
Despite there being five different perspectives, I enjoyed all of them and how different each character was. Their personalities definitely come through in the writing and their voices. Their voices were distinct and it never felt like they were the same person. I also liked the multiple perspectives because I thought it was extremely interesting to see what they thought of each other, and how it differed to how I viewed them, especially at the beginning. I also appreciated that the book was never repetitive, despite having so many perspectives. It wasn’t the same story written from the points of view of five different people; it was five different stories that converged into one.
On either side of me, Gillian and Matty reach out and grab a hand each, like guardian angels. And the tears give way to a smile, because I finally feel my worth for the first time in ages.
I loved the friendships that formed in the book. The five committee members start off as strangers and I loved being about to see them forming bonds and opening up to each other, especially because some of the characters didn’t really have any friends prior to being on the committee. I loved how much the characters were able to learn from each other and that they were able to use these new experiences to further develop their own identity. There were some time skips in the book, which at times made it difficult to see the full development of the friendships, but it never felt like things were happening too quickly or suddenly. I thought the author used the formatting of the book superbly to fill in the gaps. There were detailed notes about each committee meeting that helped fill the holes in our knowledge and I really liked those pages.
Who knew that after all those meetings, the five of us would not only accomplish what we set out to do but become better people just by knowing and learning from each other?
Besides the characters coming together as a result of working on the yearbook, there is actually very little focus on the yearbook itself. We don’t really see the characters work on it very much, which I actually preferred because the characters’ personal stories and journeys were so captivating. I enjoyed everything that I read. Everything felt realistic and the depiction of high school life was so accurate that I couldn’t help but connect with everyone’s stories. There were a couple of things that I wish had been resolved a little bit more. I kind of felt like I was left hanging about a couple of things that happened at the end of the book, but I didn’t mind the open endings that much because life goes on.
This is a wonderful Australian YA novel that I can confidently recommend to everybody. It’s completely relatable and has a cast of fantastic characters that will capture your heart from the very beginning.