Friday, December 28, 2012

Review: Love-Shy by Lili Wilkinson

Title: Love-Shy 

Author: Lili Wilkinson 

Rating: 3.5 Stars 

Once again, Lili Wilkinson has managed to take me by surprise. When I first read a Wilkinson novel, A Pocketful of Eyes, I didn't expect the depth I would receive with a book that had such a cutsie-type cover and yet again, I am utterly floored by Wilkinson. With her latest novel, Love-Shy, Wilkinson delivers not a romance, but a blooming friendship. Love-Shy, in my opinion at least, isn't as strong a novel as A Pocketful of Eyes. I found myself wishing this novel would just be over so many times, until I finally began to love it by the end. Nevertheless, although Love-Shy is nowhere close to one of my personal faves in Aussie Contemporary, it is a remarkable novel of its own that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to fans of Aussie YA.

One of the very first striking qualities about Wilkinson's novels are her protagonists. Penny is unlikable from the surface as she's bossy, a topper in just about everything, and one of those people who just knows she's better than everyone else. Yet, at the same time, she is achingly relate-able precisely because of all her flaws. As an ambitious teen yearning to become a journalist, she sets out to find a boy in her school who is love-shy, or so incredibly shy that he simply cannot talk to girls. Nick, the love-shy boy in question, first comes across as rather lame. Seriously, we read his blog posts and can't help but call him sissy, roll our eyes, and want him to just pull up his socks and at least try to talk to a girl already. Yet, as life so often tells us, first appearances can be deceiving.

As Penny delves deeper and deeper into Nick's story, witnessing his bizarre home arrangement, the string of childhood memories that have made him the way he is today, and his own quirks, she can't help but (a) fall for him and (b) learn a little bit about herself along the journey. With Love-Shy, Wilkinson hasn't created a piece about love-shy people, aiming to expose their condition to the majority of the world who has no idea how serious their shyness is. Instead, she has taken a rare dilemma and delved into it in such a manner that she somehow makes this condition that applies only to a rare few males accessible, understandable, and relate-able to all who read her novel. Seeing both Penny and Nick grow to be better people, challenge themselves, and really come to terms with their lives is a heart-warming journey.

Contrary to what you may first think, there is very little, if no, romance at all in this novel. It is alluded to and there are plenty of discussions about love to be sure, but at the core of everything is just a simple friendship. More than just Nick and Penny though, the secondary characters in this story, from Penny's gay father, to his boyfriend, to her Asian neighbor Rin, to her mother who she barely speaks to, all played an outstanding role in this novel. I was surprised by the depth they all provided and while I would have liked for a little more insight into some of their backstories, especially Penny's mom, I was overall rather pleased. If this novel has any faults, it is simply that it lacks the signature charm of Wilkinson. It is witty, funny, and keeps you flipping the pages for sure, but after a point, both Nick and Penny begin to grate on the reader. It takes a long time for them to grow even a little, which is frustrating to say the least. Furthermore, there were times when I found myself questioning the realisticness of certain situations. Were some parents really so germ-a-phobic that they coveredeverything in the house in plastic sheets? Were there really thatmany shy people in the world who wanted to kiss/touch girls sobadly?

Either way, Love-Shy achieved its purpose and is a novel I can look back upon fondly. It's a sweet, coming-of-age story of a girl discovering her place in her world all while helping another boy find his. Although I yearned for a romance similar to the absolutely ADORABLE love story in A Pocketful of Eyes,ultimately the friendship focus in this was refreshing. I always come away from a Wilkinson novel taking a deep look into my own life, re-evaluating, and feeling a lot wiser overall and Love-Shy was no different in that respect. Its ultimate impact on the reader is one that is worthwhile to experience and I am already anticipating Wilkinson's next novel, not to mention the novels I still haven't read of hers. If this is your first foray into Wilkinson's writing, I'd recommend A Pocketful of Eyes instead. It is, somehow, a much more fulfilling novel than this one and remains to be my favorite work of Wilkinson's yet. If, however, you're already a fan of Wilkinson or Aussie Contemporary in general, Love-Shy certainly doesn't disappoint.


  1. I don't think I have heard of this or even seen the cover, but I recognize the authors name so I will look her up. Anything written by an Aussie author gets my attention so this is one I may read but I will check out the other one you mentioned first.

  2. Keertana, I LOVE how you were able to get your thoughts across so poignantly in this review! Seriously, fabulously done.

    Anyways, I think I'll have to pick up the other Wilkinson novel you mentioned here first, A Pocketful of Eyes, since it seems like you enjoyed that one so much more. But Love-Shy does sound like such a different book, in a good way. I honestly don't think I've heard of anything like this book before, and it's good to see that the author was able to portray the characters well. However, some parts do seem dragged out, and I think that's something that would grate on my nerves while reading this one.

    Amazing review as always Keertana! <3 I will forever be in awe of your review writing skills. ;)

  3. Hmm, I'm not sure whether this is for me, but maybe I should give A Pocketful of Eyes a go just to give this author a chance. Penny does sound quite irritating, and Nick grating, but seeing as you did love it by the end maybe that's something I'd just have to deal with. Beatiful review as always, Keertana! :)

  4. Shucks, I love cutesy and adorable books, especially when *cough* you mention an Aussie author... Despite some of the flaws, I'll see about checking out A Pocketfull of Eyes first, and then perhaps this one after. Well, an enjoyable read at least to pass the time! Splendid review!

    Also, I anticipate your thoughts on Hold Still, Keertana. :)

  5. Aw, I am glad you liked this for the most part, it is one of my faves of 2012!

    I loved Penny, flaws and all, but you're right, Nick was a tad annoying.

    And I'm pretty sure his mum had a mental illness and that was causing her issues in the home (like the plastic sheets over everything) but I could be wrong!

  6. I haven't read any Lili Wilkinson's book, but this one sounds interesting. and I love Aussie authors :) I shall give this one a try..sounds like an easy read :) Great review :)

  7. Wilkinson is definitely not the author for me, but I'm still tempted to read this. I read A Pocketful together with Flann and gave it only three stars, but Pink I absolutely hated. Something about her style just fails to reach me emotionally, and her protagonists are usually horrible... well, for me.
    I'm really surprised that there is no romance, I expected it based on the title and the cute cover.
    I'm glad Wilkinson works for you, though, even if it's not perfect. Wonderful review as always, my dear. Sorry I've been MIA lately, my sister visits once a year so I try to spend more time with her while she's here.

  8. I figured this one would have romance in it because of the title so it's a bit surprising to hear that there's very little. But, I sometimes look for those books where there may not be much romance because after reading tons of books with insta-love, I want to read something different. Thanks for the recommendation, Keertana :)

  9. I agree with Zahida, I'm surprised to hear about the minimal romance in this one! I'm sorry the characters were so slow to develop. I'm not sure how well I'd respond to that... However, this book does sound really good. I haven't read anything by Wilkinson before, so maybe it's time to start! Lovely review, Keertana. :)

  10. I have never heard of Wilkinson! She sounds like a lovely writer though. Even though this isn't your favorite novel of hers, I can see why this one didn't disappoint you! The main characters in this book truly sound amazing and relate-able. I really want to learn about Penny and Nick's friendship grow, and what she helps him find in his life. Sorry things got a little unrealistic! That's always a downsider, it's like, really?! *cocks one eyebrow* I'm going to have to check out A Pocketful of Eyes soon. Lovely review, Keertana!

  11. Great review, Keertana. I had really mixed reactions to the author's book PINK, but I think I might give her another try sometime.


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