The Reluctant Jillaroo

Kaz Delaney
AUD $16.99
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Surf-loving Heidi impersonates her horse-mad twin sister in this rural romance from Australia's queen of teen, Kaz Delaney. Suitable for teen readers of Rachael Treasure.

Heidi Gage is all about sun, skating and waves until her twin sister, Harper, dislocates her knee.

If Harper doesn't go to jillaroo camp at Winmaroo - and seriously impress the teachers - she can kiss her dream school goodbye. And what's the point of having a twin sister if you can't switch places now and then, right?

Blame it on guilt, or on sisterly love, but before the dust has settled Heidi is heading to the country for ten days of horses, snakes, rats and creepy crawlies and trying to look like she knows what she's doing.

Heidi's about to learn a lot can happen in ten days. Flying under the radar isn't easy when you're falling in love.

Author bio:

Kaz Delaney is the award-winning author of YA novels, Dead, Actually and Almost Dead. She is a member of the Australian Romance Readers Association, and the Romance Writers Association, and a past recipient of the ARRA award for Best Paranormal Romance for Dead, Actually which was also joint winner of the 2013 Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Novel. Kaz lives in Lake Macquarie, which makes her well-positioned to write about the Upper Hunter Valley where this story is set.

Category: Young adult fiction
ISBN: 9781925266061
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Imprint: A & U Children
Pub Date: January 2016
Page Extent: 352
Format: Paperback - B format
Age: 12 - 16
Subject: Young adult fiction

Teachers Reviews

Hearing Harper fall over her skateboard with a sickening crack, Heidi knows that all her dreams have fallen apart. Due to go to jillaroo school the very next day, Harper is in surgery and together the girls plot for Heidi to take her place at the school out west. It is Hayley’s chance to excel and gain points towards a scholarship to the prestigious agriculture college at Tamworth, her dream school, so they switch. As twins no one will notice, but Heidi is a surfer, not a rider, so disaster looms for Heidi as she gets off the bus and spies her surroundings at Winmaroo. She has ridden before but is certainly not as proficient as her sister so she is relieved when given a quiet horse for the ten days. But onto the scene comes Trent a school friend of Hayley’s and with Chaz being very protective and Vee asking questions she is not sure she can pull it off. And that is before they begin the course. And with the constant patter of tiny feet along the rafters, and the green python wrapped around the beams, not to mention the possibility of snakes, Heidi’s first night is one of trepidation.

It is clear from the start that Vee is hiding something, she seems diffident and unsure, but the two strike up a friendship. Trent on the other hand questions Hayley and she is on her guard, especially after ringing her sister and finding out that he is her biggest rival and she didn’t know he would be there. And Chaz, well Chaz is a person of interest, a handsome intriguing young man who seems to like her.

A gently funny story about sticking up for your sister, of getting yourself into a perilous situation without a thought for your own safety but only caring that your sister gets her dream school, this novel has broad appeal. Heidi is determined but full of questions, dogged but unsure, watchful and anxious. We are looking over her shoulder as she learns the skills of the jillaroo trade, milking the cows, fencing, drafting, drenching, line dancing, and everything to do with horse care and riding. When more things are stolen, one of the girls, Vee, is suspected and removed from the camp. But Heidi is not convinced that she is the thief and sets a trap to find the real one. Her investigations and the final exposing of her real identity brings the story to an exciting and unexpected conclusion.

An involving and easily absorbed story about life on a station, peppered with romance and mystery, but also very funny episodes, not least of which are because the twins have swapped places, this will appeal to middle school readers, particularly girls.
Fran Knight

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