Shirley Marr's Reviews > Have You Seen Ally Queen?

Have You Seen Ally Queen? by Deb Fitzpatrick
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's review
May 20, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: aussie-ya

I can be the Queen that's inside of me/This is the chance for me to release/And be brave for you to see - Quee-ee-ee-een Quee-een-een! Every time I picked up this book to read, my brain started automatically singing this Lady Gaga song about finding your true self and as a sly segue into my review... I'm going to say that I couldn't have anything more fitting.

Have You Seen Ally Queen is a coming-of-age story about 15 year old awkward Ally, whose whole family has moved to the costal town of Melros in order to make a fresh start. It makes sense afterall, Ally and her little brother love the beach (Ally in particular being a complete water baby with a deep emotional attachment to the water). Here her dad can go fishing all the time and their organic-obsessed mother can grow vegetables to her hearts delight. But underneath this normal family structure is a deep secret - will it become too much for the four of them to bear and will it end up tearing the family apart?

The seachange has heartbreakingly backfired. Ally, her brother and dad used to go to the beach at least four times a week back in Perth and afterwards come home to steaming mugs of milos from their mother. At Melros, where the ocean is at their feet, Ally's dad hardly goes to the beach anymore, Ally feels like a fish out of water at her new school and their mother isn't even living in the family home.

Even Ally's sanctuary seems to turn against her, as a family of whales beach themselves up on the sand and not all of them can be saved.

Ally's life is unravelling. She feels she can't make any friends at the new school and as a young girl on the brink of womanhood, she feels uncomfortable in her own skin. She feels gangly and too tall. She thinks one thing and her mouth will say another. If only she could be perfect (an "Angelgirl") then life would fall into place. But Ally can't help herself. Back in Perth the School Counsellor didn't try and hound her, she had her own crowd, the place wasn't full of ignoramus hicks and the other thing - the Killer Pythons (the lollies that is) suck!

But meeting annoying boy Rel (that's Rellard) could be the best thing that's ever happened to her, to make her realise that he's the one thing that she could have never found in Perth. And through the power of her actions and her heart, maybe she can help to slowly heal her family.

Firstly let's get the question on everyone's minds out of the way. Deb Fitzpatrick's debut novel 90 packets of Instant Noodles was a breakthrough in terms of her realistic first-person portrayal of a teenage boy, so the question obviously is - Can Fitzpatrick perform the same coup from the first-person perspective of a teen girl?

The answer is yes yes yes and yes! I absolutely adored Ally Queen. She is fresh and funny and a little bit potty-mouthed and written in such a way that is so true to the teen experience. It is hard not to adore her. I loved watching her grow and mature before my eyes. I loved how she slowly broke down the boundaries of her insulated self and how once she started letting other people in - Rel in particular - she was able to let her love flow free and help hold her entire family together.

The burgeoning first love between Ally and Rel is also heart-tingling beautiful to observe. If I could describe this book, it would be sweet, gorgeous, real and poetic. Even the short chapters are like little vignettes that can be read over and slowly savoured.

The nature in which Ally's mother illness is tacked in a very realistic and sensitive manner. I've seen the "Big Illness and/or Depression" tackled before, but not this one, which I suspect is quite common, but invisiable. This is wonderful.

I love the Australian (and in particular Perth) feel of the book. I love how contemporary and fresh it is. I love this soft and whimsical world that Fitzpatrick has created within these pages. If you love younger-end contempt YA or you loved Sue Lawson's Allie McGregor's True Colours (I love both), then you need to get this novel.

This is a book that will leave a smile on my face for days to come and a lingering feel in my heart and belly (like a warm milo).

The cover is perfect and beautiful. All water-colour awash and shiny font. Love the jellyfish on the back cover. Fremantle Press is on a winning streak with matching content and mood with the covers!

A final thing to note: I love how intrinsic food is to Fitzpatrick's work. Instant noodles in her first book, now jelly Killer Pythons and mulberries. It's gives a very nourishing and warm aspect to her work. Gorgeous!

Thank you to Claire Miller of Fremantle Press for the review copy

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Comments (showing 1-15 of 15) (15 new)

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message 1: by Nic (new) - added it

Nic This sounds good!

Shirley Marr yup, sounds like my sort of story - funny, touching and possibly romantic self discovery :)

Shirley Marr PS - Anyone interested in having my copy of the awesome Have You Seen Ally Queen? If you promise to review it on Goodreads and/or your blog, message me or reply below and I shall send it to you :-)

Reynje Lovely review Shirley :) And how beautiful is the cover? I saw it in my local bookshop and I have been coveting it all week - maybe I'll make a little detour on the way home..

Wendy Darling Whales...jellyfish...first love! Yet another book to add to my teetering TBR list. Thanks A LOT, Shirley. *sigh*

Shirley Marr Thanks little Darling and Reynje... so any of you ladies want my copy? I'm trying to do the pay it forward good deed thing :)

Reynje Since I have ready access to a copy, maybe one of our friends on the other side of the world would like it? :)

Wendy Darling :-O

Um...I am batting my eyelashes furiously at both of you!

Shirley Marr Message me your addy Miss Darling and your charming ways will be rewarded!

Wendy Darling Oh oh...thank you so much, Shirley! A wonderful review AND wonderful generosity. Not to mention writing a wonderful book for us already. :D

message 11: by Nomes (new)

Nomes wow you are such a superb reviewer, shirley. i was rather taken with your review itself ~ gorgeously described and entirely intriguing. i am going to be on the look-out for this :)

message 12: by Nic (new) - added it

Nic What Nomes said! Beautiful review that makes me want to pick up this book right now :)

Shirley Marr Aww thanks Miss Nomes, although every time I write a review I feel like I need an editor to take out all the extra blah blah :-)

And thank you Miss Nic :-)

Wendy Darling ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ Shirley! ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

I got the lovely book you, thank you SO much. I can't wait to read it. :) I adore the koala-y note you sent, too.

Shirley Marr Wow, I feel the love Wendy! But it's not probs at all mate, I love to share the love

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