Mands's Reviews > Love-Shy

Love-Shy by Lili Wilkinson
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I have to start by saying that I love, love, loved this book! I was hooked from the very beginning when we're introduced to the narrator of this story, Penny Drummond, a sixteen year old student at East Glendale Secondary College. Penny is a top student, co-captain of year ten, she writes for the gazette and usually gets the front page story, she plays oboe in the orchestra, she's a super swimmer, she's the best debater and has never lost a debate. She plans on becoming a journalist and she looks up to women such as Nellie Bly and Katherine Graham.

Penny discovers her next big story when she notices that someone in the school library had been using a computer to visit a forum for men suffering from love-shyness. She finds out that love-shyness is a condition where men find the thought of talking or interacting with a women makes them anxious and they are often physically unable to talk to them yet they long to have a female partner. Penny becomes curious and is determined to figure out who is posting on this forum. After a bit of sleuthing she concludes that the boy at her school uses the name PEZZemist on the forum and after googling his name, she finds his blog where he posts about how much he loves a girl at school but how he can never talk to her.

Penny becomes obsessed with identifying PEZZemist, she starts by interviewing each boy in her year while recording the interviews on her phone. If a boy shows any signs of being shy or unable to communicate she'll mark them down as maybe. Eventually, with the help of Hamish, who she mistakenly thinks is PEZZ, she figures out who it is and tries to talk to him because she wants to help him and write the best story ever.

Let's talk about Penny, funny, funny Penny. She often made me laugh out loud thanks to her snappy, snarky comments. She's intelligent, extremely judgemental, very competitive and hates to lose. After only a few pages she reminded me of Bindy MacKenzie and I know that may put some people off (I'm looking at you, Maggie!) but I promise I mean that in the best possible way. While Bindy took some time to grow on me, Penny I absolutely loved from the minute she started talking. She lives at home with her dad, they moved to an inner-city apartment after he came out to her and her mother and her mother packed up and moved to Perth. Penny and her dad have a great relationship and she gets along well with his boyfriend, Josh.

Penny didn't seem to have many friends. Hugh, her co-captain and debating team-mate often tried to talk to her but Penny couldn't see how obvious it was that he liked her. I was dying for her to realise, silly sausage (you'll understand the reference once you've read the book.)

One day Penny realises that the new girl next door, Rin, goes to her school. Rin is so sweet and kept trying to be there for Penny but like with Hugh, Penny didn't have time for Rin, instead she was always preoccupied with her love-shy story.

Now let's talk about PEZZemist. He had me see-sawing all over the place. One minute I felt sorry for him, the next I thought he was awful, super creepy and didn't deserve Penny's help. Poor PEZZ has big, big family issues. His mother and father never let him be a kid, it sounds like he was never allowed to play and that his anxiety started at a very early age. In a word his childhood was twisted and now he's got all these issues with how he views women and himself.

The one good thing about Penny discovering PEZZ is that she relaxed a bit more with school work and extra-curricular activities but she also became obsessed with his story and the fame it potentially could bring her. I wanted her to slow down a little and realise there were people around her that wanted to spend time with her, getting to know her, not just talking about the next debate or assignment.

The end of the book ties together really well, there were a few sweet moments between Penny and Hugh and Penny, her dad and her mum and I was really happy for Rin too! I had wondered what I would feel for PEZZ but I was happy with the steps he took and he was pretty lucky that Penny took an interest in his condition because his life really was miserable before she came along.

I couldn't put this book down and even when I wasn't reading, I was thinking about it and what would happen next. I found Penny to be a very fun narrator and while most people won't be able to relate to her, we're not all as driven as she is, I think there will be aspects of her personality that will appeal to most readers.

The book gets bonus points because East Glendale Secondary College has a Vegan Alliance and they protest about the lack of cruelty-free recipes taught in Home Economics!

I recently said that Lili's book, Pink, was my favourite book of hers but I've changed my mind after reading Love-shy, this is now my favourite! Lili has managed to write a very funny book that also has a very serious and sad side too. Love-shy is released today, April 1, 2012. You can order it online from Fishpond or Booktopia or purchase it from a good book store.

My copy was provided by the fantastic people at Allen & Unwin for review. This is definitely a book I needed to own in paperback so I went out yesterday and purchased a copy as it was released early in some stores.
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Reading Progress

03/12/2012 "I'm only a few chapters in but I already love this. Penny reminds me of Bindy MacKenzie" 2 comments
40.0% 2 comments
03/15/2016 marked as: read
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Reynje Great review Mandee! I might have to make a pit stop after work to pick this one up :)

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