Saturday, May 7, 2011

This is Shyness, by Leanne Hall

First pubished by Text in 2010
I am adding this to my own blog. Originally published at CAE Book Groups.
Naturally, I didn’t read what I’m sure were the many, many entries for the 2009 Text Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing. But I still think this is a very deserving winner; it is refreshingly unique with an irresistible voice and tone – it has been a while since I’ve stayed up until the wee hours, unwilling to stop at the end of a chapter.

This is Shyness tells the captivating story of a town under permanent darkness, and the two characters who come together to walk its streets. Wildgirl and Wolfboy each have their own problems, but when they first glimpse each other in a bar, their attraction to each other is immediate. Their coupling, however, is not the usual stuff of teen paranormal romance.
Their verbal exchanges are witty, funny, and very realistic; they spar and flirt with infectious pizazz. Most importantly, their relationship develops naturally, as a result of what they go through. The weird, surreal night they spend together is the perfect background for their burgeoning relationship. I think Hall captures exactly all the awkwardness and thrill and hesitance and desire that accompanies that initial feeling of atraction. So lovely to read. Hall is also clever enough to not tie it all up neatly - this book is as fantastical as it gets, but everything feels authentic and real.
What Wildgirl and Wolfboy actually go through is exciting, unusual stuff - muggings by sugar-crazed kids, dalliances with underground black markets, and a stealth trip through a housing commission block to retrive a prized possession. A feeling of exhiliration sweeps through it all, and the story unfolds briskly and with ease.
This is Shyness is a dark and grungy book, but somehow it manages to remain light-hearted and fun. It is the kind of adventure, spanning one incredible night, that we wish would happen to us. I did not want to leave this bizarre wonderland. The two main characters are some of the best and most compelling that I have come across in young adult literature. Leanne Hall has created something quite wonderful here and I cannot recommend this book highly enough. GO AND BUY IT NOW!!!

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