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Out of This Place

Overview

A powerful novel in verse captures the voices of three teens as they struggle against hardscrabble realities ? and move toward their dreams.

Luke spends his days hanging out at the beach, working shifts at the local supermarket, and trying to stay out of trouble at school. His mate Bongo gets wasted, blocking out memories of the little brother that social services took away from his addict mom and avoiding the stepdad who hits him. And Casey, the girl they both love, longs to ...

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Overview

A powerful novel in verse captures the voices of three teens as they struggle against hardscrabble realities — and move toward their dreams.

Luke spends his days hanging out at the beach, working shifts at the local supermarket, and trying to stay out of trouble at school. His mate Bongo gets wasted, blocking out memories of the little brother that social services took away from his addict mom and avoiding the stepdad who hits him. And Casey, the girl they both love, longs to get away from her strict, controlling father and start anew in a place where she can be free. But even after they each find a way to move on and lead very different lives, can they outrun their family stories — and will they ever be able to come together again? Set in Australia and narrated in alternating points of view, here is an affecting look at the evolving lives of three friends from talented new author Emma Cameron.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
It is a spectacular novel that will have readers finishing the whole thing in one sitting.
—VOYA
VOYA - Rochelle Garfinkel
Ellen Hopkins's fans will be thrilled to find Cameron's debut novel-in-verse on the shelf, and librarians will be just as happy to help them discover it. Out Of This Place is told from the three perspectives of Luke, Bongo, and Casey, friends who are dealing with their own personal struggles while trying to find a way out of the small town in which they are stuck. Luke wrestles with the fear of expressing his feelings to those who matter; Bongo battles drug use and his family's disintegration; and Casey has to deal with her overbearing father's outdated rules and unfair treatment. The Australian setting and slang may pose a problem for some readers, but any that persevere a bit will learn that the lives of teens on the other side of the world are not too far from their own reality. The sparse verse conveys the atmospheric tension from the start, and many poems are tied together by their last and first lines—another nod to the craft of this debut novelist. The writing itself is on par with Hopkins's, telling a story through images drawn from a few words on a page. Out Of This Place is a book that will have young adults rooting for the characters they identify with and gaining empathy for those who are polar opposites. It is a spectacular novel that will have readers finishing the whole thing in one sitting. Reviewer: Rochelle Garfinkel
Children's Literature - Renee Farrah Vess
Luke, the unenthusiastic overachiever, Bongo, the misunderstood troublemaker, and Casey, the damaged damsel in distress, are all trying to break free from their life in a small Australian town. Readers watch the lives of these three friends grow complicated as they drift apart and toward the independence they thought would solve their unhappiness. You get to know the characters very well, and reading how they interact with each other, and what they think of one another, is part of the fun. The book alternates perspectives, and is presented in a non-traditional layout. There are no chapter divisions, and the prose is very poetic. Any non-poetry enthusiasts may fear it is too artsy, but it flows so naturally it reads like journal entries or blog posts. This form makes the reader feel as though they are hearing delicately personal and private thoughts from each character, and are therefore intricately linked to their various plights. The text is easy to understand with carefully chosen words (sometimes Australian slang), and makes for a very articulate read. It is an introspective book with brooding characters heavy with the realities of teenage and adult life. Readers should know that adult themes such as sex, pregnancy, drug use, and domestic abuse are major plot points. Reviewer: Renee Farrah Vess; Ages 14 up.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—In this novel in verse, Luke, Casey, and Bongo stand on the brink of graduating and leaving home. All three struggle to decide who they are and what will come next. Luke is a star cricket player, but knows he wants more. Casey longs to climb out from under the thumb of her overbearing father. Bongo mourns the loss of his brother to child-protective services while living with an absent addict mother and abusive stepfather. The Australian teens tell their stories in succession, with each one overlapping slightly so as to deepen scenes already depicted, push the plot forward chronologically, and bring the protagonists back together by book's end. While Luke is a somewhat less vividly drawn character than the other two, he likely suffers slightly from his position as first narrator. The pacing can be inconsistent, leaving events underdeveloped (such as a friend's death toward the end). Ultimately, however, what stands out are the teens' authentic voices. Cameron superbly renders characters who never feel like caricatures. Though all are down on their luck to various degrees, Luke, Casey, and Bongo are not on the downward spiral of characters in an Ellen Hopkins novel. Depictions of their struggles are correspondingly tempered. Sex scenes, for example, are in no way graphically depicted. Redemption comes quickly to these highly likable characters in a tale to which many teens will relate.—Jill Heritage Maza, Montclair Kimberley Academy, Montclair, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
A trio of characters give their perspectives in this emotionally gripping Australian import. Luke has been in love with Casey since forever and longs to protect her from her overbearing and chilly father. Their friend Bongo's abusive home life worries them both, though it is Casey, a kindred spirit in understanding how paralyzing a lack of autonomy can be, who's better able to identify with him. Each takes a turn narrating, describing some of the same events cast in different lights and extending them to tell their own stories more fully. This alternation works well in terms of providing a window into each of their experiences, though the style changes little from character to character. The simple free verse in which the novel is written bridges the gaps among the three most of the time, but there are instances where it doesn't ring true--such as when teenage boy Luke thinks to himself that a dress Casey wears, "shimmers like the Emerald City." Complex issues, including drug addiction, homelessness, unplanned pregnancy and first experiences with sex, are presented with nuance and sensitivity, and if the conclusion is happier for all concerned than might be common, readers will be cheered by it nonetheless. A smart and hopeful debut novel about the necessity of finding one's own way. (Fiction/verse. 14 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763664046
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 5/14/2013
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 530,610
  • Age range: 14 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Emma Cameron works in school libraries, where she enjoys being surrounded by books and children. About Out of This Place, her first novel, she says, "I am fascinated by watching people finding their way in life. . . . I always hope that where people end up is not too far away from where they had aimed to be." She lives in the South Coast of New South Wales, Australia.

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