The Yearbook Committee by Sarah Ayoub – Book Review

Charlie has moved (against her will) to Sydney with her mother and stepfather and is trying to get through her final year of high school so that she can return to Melbourne. She is forced by the principal to be part of the yearbook committee – a group of five, with only one eager participant. Gillian, who wants to be there, is bullied at school by the popular girls and at home by her image-conscious mother and politician father. Ryan is the school captain and, until a recent injury, the school soccer star who having lost his sport, is struggling to find reason. Matt, the scholarship student, is a loner who is dealing with a mother who is having a severe depressive episode and he is trying to keep them afloat. Finally, Tammi, best friend to Gillian’s biggest bully, sent to the yearbook committee to keep an eye on Gillian. A year can be a long time at school, and friendships can form in unexpected ways.

I love Ayoub’s writing. She paints characters beautifully and it takes no time to enter their world. Some of the events and connections in this book are a little far-fetched, yet she makes them totally believable. My own issue was that it was too short – a lot happens in the final stretch of the book and I really wanted to see the characters deal with things. It doesn’t feel as though a sequel is due, but it would be good if there was one. I just wanted more!

Hate is Such a Strong Word by Sarah Ayoub – Book Review

Sophie is in Year 12 at a Lebanese, Catholic school. She is struggling with her identity, finding a balance between being a teenager in modern Sydney but having to live within the restrictions of her protective, traditional father. Meanwhile, with a recent violent clash similar to the Cronulla riots takes place, everyone is on edge. When a new student starts, he is ostracised because of his background.

Self-doubt. Love. Confusion. Peer pressure. Cultural pressure. Family pressure. Independence. Lies. Difficult truths. This book has it all. Ayoub brings us so quickly into this world where Sophie is trying to figure out what she wants and how to get it while still having the support and love of her friends and family. I loved it. Such a good YA book.