A funny, warm, feel-good novel about friends, family, first kisses and finding your way in the world.
Kate Gordon lives in Hobart, in a mint-green cottage, with her husband, her very strange cat, Mephy Danger Gordon, and a wonderful little girl who goes by the name of Tiger. Kate dreams that one day she and her little family will live in another cottage, by the beach, with goats and chickens. In the meantime, she fills her house with books, perfects her gluten-free baking technique, has marvellous adventures with Tiger, and she writes.
Kate was the recipient of 2011 and 2012 Arts Tasmania Assistance to Individuals grants, which means she can now spend more time doing what she loves.
WOW … this novel is so refreshing and engaging. While it is written for teens, the authenticity and voice of Clementine had me wanting to read this novel in one sitting. When you read the blurb on the back cover of this novel, chances are you might think this is another teen/school novel based on typical teenage angst, family relationships, besties, self-discovery, new boy at school scenario, etc. I was hesitant to take a review copy. However, this is the best novel in its genre to be published in a long time.
Clementine is in Year 9 at Burnie High School, Tasmania. The plot of the novel is about Clementine writing entries, during class, to her teacher Mrs Hillier about her personal thoughts, reflections and life issues. Besides the themes, this novel is worth studying for its structure, the creation of the voice/persona of Clementine and style. I wish I had an all-girls Year 9 English class to study this novel with. It would also be a great novel for predominantly female Year 8-10 reading groups. I found Writing Clementine beautiful as Kate Gordon acknowledges two of her teachers. I had never read anything by Kate Gordon before, but am now inspired to read a copy of Three Things About Daisy Blue, Thyla and Vulpi.
If your school has a radical PE department that engage with literacy, and include novels in their programs, I’d certainly recommend this novel for topics on self-image/body image and depression.
Jodie Webber, Hurlstone Agricultural High School NSW 2172
Reading a wonderful story set in the northern region of Tasmania is an unusual situation for a reader to be in. However, the life issues that teenage girl Clementine encounters and reacts to are typical of young people all over Australia. The diary style of the author is very catching. The narrative that is presented through the eyes of Clementine (Clem) adds such a wonderful sense of humanity and warmth that wins the reader over. School rules teen lives in so many ways and the influence that Ms. Hiller has on Clementine is personal and empowering. This allows Clementine to write freely about her experiences in Burnie, her family and friends.
Close friends are always problematic in teen years and this narrative highlights this so very clearly. The 3CDs, which are the initials of the three girls in the Clem’s group, apply social pressure to one another that presents a range of dilemmas for each of the girls. The boy loving, make up using, fashionable two of the group, Cleo and Chelsea-Grace, are a complete contrast to Clem and this is brought to a real climax later in the story.
The school gum-tree sitting alone on a bank by the side of the oval brought a sensational change to Clementine’s life. Meeting Fred Paul was a stroke of luck and eventual fortune for Clem. If you have never heard of ‘steampunk’ you are in for a treat. The group of youngsters that make up this band of Victorian era lovers are a welcome addition to the plot and the growth of Clem as an individual.
Family turmoil happens so often in the lives of teens all over Australia. Kate Gordon cleverly balances the narrative of Clementine’s life with those of her older sister Sophie and troubled older brother Fergus. The theme of resilience is then highlighted by Gordon and the resolution of some serious family issues are tackled with the reader left to consider the next phase in this family’s life. Really well scripted!
The author’s character exposé of Clementine progresses at a steady pace and the graduation of change in Clem’s outlook on the world and her relationship with other people her age is so sensitively complied. From dependent and compliant to opinionated and in love, Clem’s character develops smoothly and with compassion.
This novel would be perfect for a serialized read to Year 9 students and older. The chapter segmentation is functional and allows the reader to add vitality and suspense to the author’s story lines. This is an engaging read and would appeal to 14+ readers.
Mr Trevor Dangerfield, Elisabeth Murdoch College VIC