I don’t know about you, but I’m a total cover whore. I don’t need to read the blurb, if it’s bright, shiny and pretty, my inner 4 year old comes out and I have to have it. Admit it, we all do it.
That is how I found one of my top 2016 reads; Yellow by Megan Jacobson. It had some of the most authentic Australian teenage dialogue and I read it in one sitting. So when I stumbled across The Build-Up Season, I didn’t read the synopsis, I didn’t check reviews, I didn’t care about that stuff, Yellow was such a strong, engaging read that I will automatically buy her next 10 books.
The Build-Up Season focuses on Iliad Piper, she comes from a violent home, she has been sent from one boarding school to another, her dads in jail, her mum is recovering from the years of abuse and trauma, trying to do the best she can. Ily struggles with all relationships, she is angry, she is a little broken and when she meets Jared she finally feels like she can be herself, maybe even happy.
Firstly the book is set in Darwin, WIN!!!! The descriptive language and dashes of history throughout draw you right into the story, I had only been back from Darwin a couple of weeks when I read this and I was ready to put the family on a plane and get back up there. It made me miss it. Combine this with realistic dialogue and fully fleshed out characters and the story pops off the page. You feel their happiness, you feel their heartbreak, you cry right along with them.
The Build-Up Season delves into some harsh issues. Domestic abuse, physical and emotional. Post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety. All these things that people are only just starting to talk about. Its not preachy, it doesn’t push an agenda, I think what it does do well is make the reader a little more understanding, a little more compassionate and hopefully less judgmental. Lets face it the last thing a victim of domestic abuse needs is the world judging them on why they stayed in the relationship for so long.
Ily is a complex character, she is a teenager, teenagers can be so selfish, I think its just the way they are hardwired at that age. She is angry, she is scared, she is strong and she isn’t overly likable. I like it when writers make a victim not overly likable, it forces us to be that little bit more understanding, more compassionate when it doesn’t necessarily come easy. Its easy to victim blame when you have something negative to say about someone, when you don’t understand their behaviour. I adored Ily, she spoke to my teenage self, even my 20 something self. I wanted to hug her, tell her that she would be OK, I wanted to help her put her pieces back together.
The characters around Ily range from the sweet, comfortable friend Mia. Ily’s new age mother, the opinionated gran, the prank war partner Max and her complicated boyfriend Jared. No one in this book is perfect, we have all of these characters that are just trying to do the best they can, with what they have.
The bell rings and people start filing their way inside the theatre. I look around for Mia and see her crouching down to pick at a weed that’s growing through the crack in the concrete. She places it in the elastic that holds up her ponytail and scurries over to me before I hand my ticket to the person at the door. ‘You do know that’s a weed, Mia?’ She looks at me seriously. ‘A weed is still a flower, Ily, it’s just one that nobody’s bothered to appreciate before, so I’m going to’.
It’s lucky I didn’t have a highlighter with me while I was reading, because the pages would have been covered. There were so many truth bombs, it was relevant and I think it’s a book everyone should read. Megan Jacobson is a wonderful Australian author and I’m looking forward to seeing what she has in store for us next.