Young Adult Australian Writing

The description of None Shall Sleep by Ellie Marney on the publisher’s website goes like this (follow this link and you can also read an excerpt):

“It’s 1982, and the innovative FBI Behavioral Science section is breaking new ground. Emma Lewis and Travis Bell, two teenagers with valuable skills, are recruited to interview convicted juvenile killers for information on cold cases.

When they’re drawn into an active case targeting teenagers, everything starts to unravel. Over Travis’s objections, Emma becomes the conduit between the FBI and an incarcerated serial killer, nineteen-year-old Simon Gutmunsson, who is a super-intelligent sociopath. And although Simon seems to be giving them the information they need to save lives, he’s also an expert manipulator playing a very long game …”

Like many other people I know who’ve read this book, I raced through it at breakneck speed. Fans of thrillers, or of the TV series Mindhunter, will enjoy it. The time setting is very fitting for the chronological history of behavioural science and, additionally, the 1980s are very popular now thanks to shows like Stranger Things. (Coincidentally, the next title on this list is also set in the 1980s!) I saw a teenager walking down the street during the recent school holidays holding None Shall Sleep tight in her hand, perhaps keeping it close in order to return to reading as soon as possible!

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix “follows one girl’s quest to find her father, leading her to a secret society of magical fighting booksellers who police the mythical Old World when it disastrously intrudes into the modern world”. That quote is from the publisher, where you can also read an excerpt. Our heroine – Susan – is a plucky eighteen-year-old and is more than a match for the mercurial Merlin, a secret society bookseller, as together they try to discover more about her family history – especially the mystery of her father’s identity. This is a fun, stand-alone fantasy with a nice will-they-won’t-they romance that runs through it.

As an extra treat, I recommend this hour-long conversation between Amie Kaufman and Garth Nix talking about books and writing.


The overview of This One Is Ours by Kate O’Donnell is as follows:

“Sixteen-year-old Sofie is a dreamer, an artist and a romantic. So when she goes on exchange to Paris, she is expecting magnificent adventures of the heart and mind. Yet France isn’t what she imagined. It’s cold and grey, and she finds speaking another language exhausting. Sofie’s more homesick than lovesick.

But then her host sister, Delphine, and fellow artist Olivier show her a different side of Paris, and Sofie starts to question her ideas of art, beauty and meaning. Of everything. There’s truth in what her best friend, Crow, has been saying all along: the world is in crisis and people need to take notice.” (Source)

When I was a teenager living in a small country town – remember this was the early 90s when I had no internet or Google Earth –  I used to imagine going on a student exchange to exciting foreign places. I wondered what changes that would make to my day-to-day life. What would I eat for breakfast? What social faux pas would I unwittingly make? This One is Ours captures those wonderful small details that make a first international travel experience such a big part of someone’s life. As I read I would often compare Sofie’s adventures with my own in my too-brief visit to the city of lights and how I would love to go back one day.

I didn’t get the exact time, but I think I finished The Boy From the Mish by Gary Lonesborough in less than 24 hours. I couldn’t put it down. Here is a brief synopsis from the publisher’s website (where you can also read an excerpt):

“It’s a hot summer, and life’s going all right for Jackson and his family on the Mish. It’s almost Christmas, school’s out, and he’s hanging with his mates, teasing the visiting tourists, avoiding the racist boys in town. Just like every year, Jackson’s Aunty and annoying little cousins visit from the city – but this time a mysterious boy with a troubled past comes with them… As their friendship evolves, Jackson must confront the changing shapes of his relationships with his friends, family and community. And he must face his darkest secret – a secret he thought he’d locked away for good.”

I love books that are set in that important liminal time of the summer school holidays, it can be such a powerful framework – and here in Australia, we have Christmas and New Years celebrations in the mix as well. What I took away from this story was an overwhelming sense of tenderness and compassion towards the characters; the depiction of gentle intimacy was lovely.

When We Are Invisible by Claire Zorn is the sequel to her esteemed post-apocalyptic novel The Sky So Heavy and picks up the story of survivors Lucy, Fin and Max as they search for a safe haven outside Sydney (what is left of it) – but, once they find this sanctuary, is it really as safe as they think? I am a big fan of The Sky So Heavy. I read it a few years ago and my memories of it are that it was compelling and page-turning due to the nature of the story and Zorn’s deft hand at characterisation. When We Are Invisible is very similar in this respect. If you’re wondering, it is possible to read this novel without knowledge of its predecessor, as we are given a few brief flashbacks and reminders of what happened. These are important, too, as they emphasise the trauma these characters have experienced and their ongoing repercussions. My recommendation? Read them both!


What #LoveOzYA picks do you have for me? There are so many, it’s hard to stop at one!

karen andrews

Karen Andrews is the creator of this website, one of the most established and well-respected parenting blogs in the country. She is also an author, award-winning writer, poet, editor and publisher at Miscellaneous Press. Her latest book is Trust the Process: 101 Tips on Writing and Creativity