BOOK REVIEW: Yellow
by Megan Jacobson
Publication date: 1 February 2016
Publisher: Penguin Teen Australia
Goodreads: If fourteen-year-old Kirra is having a mid-life crisis now, then it doesn’t bode well for her life expectancy. Her so-called friends bully her, whatever semblance of a mother she had has been drowned at the bottom of a gin bottle ever since her dad left them for another woman, and now a teenage ghost is speaking to her through a broken phone booth. Kirra and the ghost make a pact. She’ll prove who murdered him almost twenty years ago if he does three things for her. He makes her popular, he gets her parents back together, and he doesn’t haunt her. Things aren’t so simple however, and Kirra realises that people can be haunted in more ways than one.
Megan Jacobson has written an excruciatingly honest and real story of teenage struggles and less than preferable family circumstances. Kirra comes from a low income family who lives in a Housing Commission. Jacobson shows us how misunderstood these families, particularly the teenagers, are in our society.
“I think you can be shy and still feel okay about yourself at the same time.”
Kirra starts out as a shy and scared teenage. She really reminded me of myself which speaks to the realistic way in which Jacobson has written her. During the book Kirra befriends Willow, a girl from school, who, along with Boogie the ghost, give her direction and encouragement which pushes her into standing up for herself and taking charge in changing her circumstances. She makes some questionable and flawed decisions but it’s important to note that she learns from them.
“Do not define me by my gender or my socio-economic status, Noah Willis. Do not tell me who I am and do not tell me who society thinks I am and then put me in that box and expect me to stay there.“
I loved Willow. Despite being constantly bullied and outcast by her peers, she’s strong and as fierce as a teenage girl can be. She was the girl I always wanted to be as a high schooler, someone who just did not care what other people thought about her. Willow and Kirra’s friendship was very realistic. Their friendship was shaky at first and they would fight and make up. It perfectly reflected any friendship between a pair of teenage girls.
There was a hint of romance but it didn’t overpower the story. It wasn’t presented in a manner that suggested Kirra needs a boyfriend. Similarly, it was very easy to forget that this was a magical-realism. It was a very subtle ghost story. It read as a contemporary with a dash of ghost which was somewhat jarring at times. It almost felt like the book was trying to bring together two stories and didn’t quite make it over the line
“Courage, real courage, comes from being afraid and doing it anyway.”
Yellow is a story of outcasts and a healthy reminder of the struggles that teenagers have to overcome everyday. Some parts of the story felt slightly rushed and other unrealistic but overall it was a quick and easy read that discussed some important issues. Jacobson reminds us that it’s important to take risks and stand up to our bullies but most importantly, we have the power to change our circumstances.