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I'll Tell You Mine

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Kate Elliot isn't trying to fit in – that's the whole point of being a goth, isn't it?

Everything about her – from her hair to her clothes – screams different and the girls at her school give her a wide berth. How can Kate be herself, really herself, when she's hiding her big secret? The one that landed her in boarding school in the first place. She's buried it down deep but it always seems to surface.

But then sometimes your soul mates sneak up on you in the most unlikely of places. Like Norris Grammar Boarding School for Girls, where's she's serving a life sentence, no parole, because her parents kicked her out.

So, how do you take that first step and reveal your secrets when you're not sure that people want to see the real you?

264 pages, Paperback

First published March 28, 2012

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About the author

Pip Harry

8 books92 followers
Pip Harry is an Australian children’s author and journalist. Her middle grade novel, The Little Wave, won the CBCA 2020 Book of the Year Award and the Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year. It was shortlisted for the 2020 NSW Premier's Literary Awards – Ethel Turner Prize for Young People's Literature.

Her young adult novels include I’ll Tell You Mine, Head of the River, and Because of You, shortlisted for the CBCA Book of the Year Awards, Victorian Premier's Literary Award and Queensland Literary Awards.

Are You There, Buddha? is a 2022 CBCA Notable book and was nominated for the Ethel Turner prize.

Pip’s latest middle grade novel, August & Jones is out now.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 59 reviews
Profile Image for Kat Kennedy.
475 reviews16.1k followers
May 16, 2012
There was a rea­son that Melina Mar­che­tta launched this book. I think I can safely put up a big sign over Pip Harry’s name that says, “Watch This Space.”

And because Pip Harry is Aus­tralian – instead of being lauded as bril­liant and fan­tas­maze­balls, she just gets put in that neat lit­tle cat­e­gory of Great Aus­tralian Writ­ers like Melina Mar­che­tta, Kirsty Eagar, Markus Zusak, Garth Nix, Shirley Marr, Lucy Christo­pher and Laura Buzo. I’m sure at least a cou­ple of them aren’t really Aus­tralian but we have a ten­dency of just claim­ing peo­ple as our own – so just go with it.

This was the story of socially awk­ward Goth girl, Kate, deal­ing with being kicked out of home, relat­ing to a bunch of board­ers and rec­ti­fy­ing her home sit­u­a­tion whilst deal­ing with her own crush­ing insecurities.

It’s about being fif­teen and stu­pid, and lucky, and angry, and con­fused and frustrated.

What really spoke to me was the brash real­ity of Kate’s life. Things aren’t just glossed over or puri­fied through a decency fil­ter for the reader. This isn’t about teens hang­ing out in designer clothes and play­ing base­ball with their par­ents on a Sun­day after­noon. This is about a girl who drinks, who wants to have sex, who has an uncon­trol­lable tem­per and a dif­fi­cult per­son­al­ity. And since Harry embraces that truth and raw­ness of nar­ra­tion, she’s able to induce strong emo­tional moments between the char­ac­ters of the novel.

My biggest con­cern was on the Goth thing. I was con­cerned that the book would be full of bad poetry and mus­ings about the futile­ness of hap­pi­ness. And in the inter­est of full dis­clo­sure, every­thing I learned about Goths came from Southpark.

southpark Goths
It's where I learn most things, to be honest.

But it turns out, like with most things, the label is just a win­dow dress­ing for an oth­er­wise nor­mal girl deal­ing with oth­er­wise nor­mal teenage things. She just hap­pens to be Goth while she’s doing it. And even though I still don’t know what that means, I learned a very valu­able les­son… don’t piss off Goth peo­ple or your intestines will become their floss! Okay, maybe not the les­son you’re sup­posed to learn, but, whatever.

I enjoyed Pip Harry’s style of nar­ra­tion and the book flows well for the first three quar­ters. Right up until the last quar­ter I would have said it was a five star novel. In the last quar­ter, the nar­ra­tion really slips into denoue­ment mode and becomes very telling and to be hon­est, both myself and the story weren’t quite ready for that. It’s like when you’re still colour­ing and your parent/teacher comes along and starts ask­ing you to pack up and you’re like, “Hold it! I’m still going here! THE FOOT ISN’T FINISHED!”

There was still some story left to go but the edge had gone from the novel because we were in the nice, com­fort­ing wrap-up phase of storytelling.

If you’re a fan of Aussie nov­els, Melina Mar­che­tta, heart-warming tales or good times, then I highly sug­gest you give this one a go.

This review also appears on my blog, Cuddlebuggery Book Blog where there's a signed copy for Giveaway.
Profile Image for Arlene.
1,155 reviews642 followers
August 5, 2012
I’ll Tell You Mine is a fabulous debut novel by Pip Harry that is authentically Aussie. Truly enjoyed this story from beginning to end!

I feel like I’m being repetitive, but there’s no other way to put it… If I had to choose one genre to take me through the rest of my reading career, I’d have to say it would definitely be Australian YA Contemporary. There’s a realism and charm that seems to constantly resonate through these books, where I find myself immersed in the story and reluctant to let go when I’m done. I can say with confidence that Pip Harry has definitely earned a spot among the Awesome Aussie Authors crowd of Kirsty Eagar, Fiona Wood, Cath Crowley, Sue Lawson and Julie Gittus to name a few of my faves. And, let’s not forget that Melina Marchetta endorsed this novel for good reason. Definitely an Aussie book that shouldn’t be missed by fans of this genre.

This story kicks off with quite an intriguing premise where Kate is sent to a Melbourne boarding school as a year ten student as sort of a punishment or “teenage time-out” by her parents. What happened during the mysterious final infraction remains unknown until the final chapters, which is when Kate finally finds her place among the boarders and has developed some meaningful friendships. She stands to lose all of that when her secret is revealed, which could possibly taint her character and strip away the progress she’s made throughout this difficult year of transition.

There were parts of the story that I felt so connected to the characters and their surrounding that I found myself wanting to either pick up a map or google Wagga, Melbourne, and a few other places that were mentioned so I could clearly envision these characters in their space. When an author achieves that sort of connection for me, there’s no doubt I was hooked into this fictional, magical moment.

Pip’s strength clearly lies in her ability to create a relatable narrator alongside a perfectly blended secondary cast. Kate and her band of misfits were huggable, realistic and honest to a fault. I loved the multiple layers Pip achieved with her story by way of introducing such uniquely different characters that each had a story to share that was filled with emotion and heart.

Pip Harry spares no expense in delivering a great Aussie experience that takes relevant teenage issues and struggles, such as parental dissension, friendship, and first love with a sense of purpose, sensitivity and relate-ability. Well done!

Song Choice: Dark Side Dark Side by KC

If you would like to learn more about this author and enter a give-away for this little gem, WinterHaven books is hosting a give-away. You can go here for give-away details.
winter haven books
Profile Image for Reynje.
272 reviews964 followers
May 31, 2012
3.5 stars

As per its glowing blurb, I ll Tell You Mine contains three of Melina Marchetta’s favourite ingredients: ”boarding school, great characters and a lot of heart.” If that hasn’t sold you on it, Pip Harry’s debut also contains: family secrets, goth rock and sweaty farm boys from Wagga.

No, seriously. Enough with the chiselled jaws and broody eyes. What YA needs is more guys in KingGees.

As the synopsis states, Kate Elliot is harbouring a secret, one that has resulted in her being packed off to board at her Melbourne high school. The secret is alluded to through flashbacks, effectively raising the stakes as the story approaches the final reveal - yet I can’t help but feel that the real strength of this novel is in it’s characters.

That’s not to discredit the catalyst for Kate’s story – it’s a powerful premise and an effective inciting incident. But it’s Harry’s ability to craft a nuanced, complex cast that really carry this story, more so than the plot. Not just in mousy-turned-goth-girl Kate, but in her fellow boarders, Harry adroitly side-steps clichés and gives her characters depth. From popular over-achiever Harriet to the Siobhan-Sullivan-esque, (MM FTW!) incorrigible flirt Maddy, to Kate’s goth-not-emo-thank-you-very-much friends – the characters have dimension and agency beyond Kate’s internal journey.

Harry has an accessible writing style and Kate’s voice always feels authentic – angry, vulnerable, reckless. There’s an ease to the dialogue and accuracy in her depiction of teens that I think will resonate with readers – Harry is upfront about drinking, drugs and sex without making this feel like an “issues” book.

I ll Tell You Mine did take a turn I didn’t expect (a turn to Wagga Wagga to be precise ,) as the focus shifts slightly from Kate’s immediate family problems to her self-image and friendship with Maddy. And polite farm boys.

A hopeful novel about identity, friendship and forgiveness, I ll Tell You Mine is a solid, heartfelt debut that earns a spot alongside Gabrielle Williams, Lili Wilkinson, Fiona Wood… Definitely one to watch.

As requested by Trin - the book manicure. I hope Kate would approve…

Profile Image for ALPHAreader.
1,102 reviews
July 22, 2012
Kate Elliot has done something so bad; her parents are kicking her out of home and into boarding school. What’s worse is that everyone at school knows there’s something odd about Kate switching from day-girl to prison boarder. She lives in Melbourne, for crying out loud! There’s no reason for her to commute to the boarding house, unless everyone’s suspicions about her freakdom are true . . .

This is just another in a long line of incidences that make Kate stand out like a sore thumb. She also dresses ‘Goth’ (not to be confused with emo – ever!) thanks in part to her two best friends, Nate and Annie, whom she met while waiting in line at a music festival. The Elliot name may be quite a prestigious one these days, what with her mum being a big-wig politician in Canberra – but Kate can’t live up to her ideals lately. If they’re not fighting about her room, aka: ‘the pit’, then they’re waging warfare about Kate’s clothes/hair/friends/curfew . . . it seems that Kate has ongoing battles at school against the blonde brigade and at home with her perpetually-disappointed mother. Kate can’t win.

But kicking her out of home isn’t going to fix things. At least, Kate doesn’t think so. She’s rooming with Harriet and Jess – two of the perfect posse at her school. And then there’s her third roommate, Maddy Minogue; a girl with an easy reputation and a hot brother called Lachy. This is going to be a disaster.

‘I’ll Tell You Mine’ is the debut young adult novel from Australian author, Pip Harry.

Let me start this review by confessing something. THIS WAS MY LIFE! . . . Speaking as an ex-private all girls schoolgirl, I can safely say that Pip Harry has nailed the Norris collegiate setting of ‘I’ll Tell You Mine’. I too had to adhere to wacky school rules like not eating hot food on the street in our school uniforms, always wearing our straw-hats when outside the school gates in summer and that the cloth belts on our ‘ginghams’ had to be tight and riding securely on our hips – and that’s just to name a very few. We also had Year 12 prefects who manned the school gates, inspecting uniforms and handing out detention slips (I later became one of those detention-giving prefects; I was Magazine Captain, of course! And I've got to say, it was an enjoyable power-trip). My high school also had a boarding house attached – and the same way that Kate Elliot views the boarding house as something akin to mandatory detention, that was also the general consensus when I was at school. The ‘day girls’ really didn’t mix with the boarders – we thought it was weird that when we went home after school, they remained forever imprisoned. They were a very cliquey bunch, and the entire boarding house seemed to be an extended family who was as disinterested in us as we were in them. It wasn’t until Year 12, when a shared common room and the impending sense of doom that was final exams, actually gave us all a chance to bond and get to know one another. And us day girls discovered that those boarders could PAR-TAY! Turns out, they didn’t hide away in their cell-like rooms after the 3:30 bell. They snuck out. They each had a boyfriend-backup system to break out of school at night and live their teenage lives in heady abandon. They were actually kinda great.

I admit, the boarding school setting intrigued me (especially with ‘On the Jellicoe Road’ being one of my favourite books of all time!). But it was the opening paragraph that hooked me;

I've been grounded for sixty-two days this year. That’s 1488 hours of imprisonment. Of sitting in my room thinking about how much I hate my mother. I know I’m not supposed to hate someone who cracked her pink bits in half giving birth to me. But if you knew her, you’d understand.

Fantastic! Straight away I got an idea of Kate’s voice (pink bits – brilliant!) and in that first chapter we also learn that Kate did something so horrible to her mum, that she couldn’t bear to live with her for another second – kicking her out, and into boarding school.

So begins ‘I’ll Tell You Mine’, told from Kate’s perspective as she lives a term out of home, forced to fend for herself and reflect on how she, and her family, got to this drastic stage.

Kate was a really intriguing character. Arguably the most outwardly interesting (freaky?) thing about her is her appearance – full Goth, complete with black tulle, painted white face and drastic eyes. And while Kate adopted the Goth persona in part because of her love for the music scene, she also admits that attending school at Norris turned her invisible. She didn’t fit in with the Duke-of-Ed, white-jumper-wearing, blonde prefects, and so began to feel utterly invisible in a sea of over-achievers. Becoming Goth was a way for her to be noticed, to matter to someone, anyone.

Someone else who doesn’t fit in at Norris is Maddy Minogue – the girl whose mother died last year, and who has been busy building her reputation as the school ‘slut’ ever since. Arguably the two biggest out-casts of Norris, let alone the boarding house, I really loved when Kate and Maddy joined forces. They’re both wearing masks and almost playing a part, to an extent, and I really loved reading about how they picked each other’s layers away throughout the course of the book.

As much as I enjoyed reading the building-up of Maddy and Kate’s relationship, I also think Harry nailed the mother-daughter conflict that’s really at the heart of the novel. Kate’s mother is a politician, away to Canberra for most of the week, and seeming only to return home to yell at Kate’s dad and express for the umpteenth time her distress at Kate’s new Goth look. Harry beautifully gets to the heart of mother-daughter conflict with these two, as they butt heads over who Kate is and who her mum wants her to be.

I did feel like ‘I’ll Tell You Mine’ was just a little too loose in some parts. There were moments when I wanted the story to be tighter, or the characters to stay on the page for just a little while longer, to really be strung out and examined. Kate’s parents, for example; very early on it becomes obvious that Kate’s home life isn’t great. Her parents have a complex back-story, which involves them both being free-spirits once (her mum even sported a nose ring for a little while!) until Kate came along and her young, 20-something parents had to settle down and get married. Over the course of their marriage they’ve drifted further and further apart – her mum into politics and a high-stakes career, and her easy-going father into a part-time graphic designer who still chases waves on occasion. There was a moment in the book when Kate reveals that she knows how bad her parents’ marriage has got – but it’s a small reflection on a botched family vacation, and isn’t really revisited again. I thought Harry did a wonderful job of writing Kate’s claustrophobic home-life – that even if I thought Kate was quite unreasonable (and a bit of a terror sometimes) I thought any outbursts she had were also a product of her parents’ high-strung, walking-on-egg-shells marriage that forever seemed on the verge of cracking wide open. I was looking forward to that boiling-over moment in their marriage – if only for release (something I think Kate feels too). But it doesn’t come. Harry shied away from the tougher stuff and ended up writing a bit of a bandaid fix for what seemed like a far more complex relationship between two very different people.

I also felt like a few secondary characters fell by the wayside towards the end of the book. Kate’s fellow-Goth friends, Annie and Nate, were interesting. I wanted to figure out if they were the bad influences Kate’s mum seemed to think, or genuine friends deserving of Kate’s time and energy. There’s even an interesting crush set-up, when Kate reveals she has unreciprocated feelings for Nate . . . this storyline, in particular, could have been a bigger bombshell towards the end of the book, but Nate and Annie actually got very little page-time considering how important they supposedly were to Kate.

A few of the secondary characters did pique my interest though, as they drifted around Kate’s periphery – like her roommates, Harriet and Jess. Harriet cries at night, even though she’s a perfect-A pupil with her sights set on a school captaincy. Swimmer, Jess, is unsuccessfully hiding a secret from the world, and while everyone can see she’ll be a lot happier when the cat’s out of the bag, she’s holding on tight to the lie. And then there’s outcast Lou, a sweet-natured fellow boarder who practices sycophancy, but who should embrace her own voice and do her own thing . . . all of these girls, along with Kate and Maddy, really helped bring the story together. And each of them, with their secrets held close to their chests, certainly had a case of ‘I’ll Tell You Mine’ if you tell me yours.

I feel like the last few chapters really started to pick up steam, and I especially felt more connected to the story and Kate’s plight when she travels to Maddy’s farm out Wagga Wagga way. I really liked this turn in the story, because Kate gets to see the fall-out felt by the Minogue’s, since the death of their mother to cancer the year before. I also really liked this country turn, because we get to meet Maddy’s intriguing farmer brother, Lachy. And it was in these final chapters that Harry wrote some of my favourite, heart-swelling scenes;

Lachy nods and he looks out at the road and the thick scrub.
‘You know what I really hate?’ he says, just when I’m starting to think he’s stopped speaking for the night.
‘When people say my mum has gone to a better place.’ He looks up at the sky, which is starting to darken. ‘No better place for her than right here, I reckon,’ he says, and it’s all I can do not to lean over and hug him. He sounds so broken. ‘Here is where her family, her friends are. Y’know?’
‘Yeah,’ I say. But I don’t really know what it’s like to lose someone I love. And I guess that makes me lucky.

Reading Pip Harry’s debut novel had me reminiscing about my own private school days, spent in chequered gingham and straw-hats, braving the ferocious wars of all-girl school terrain. Harry excels at setting – from the vivid recreation of dorm-life, to Kate’s claustrophobic home life with parents who are worlds apart. There were times when I wished we’d spent more time with certain characters or that Harry had chosen a rougher route for their development, instead of shying away on occasion . . . but, all in all, this was a lovely introduction to a new Aussie YA author who I will certainly be keeping my eye on.
Profile Image for Louisa.
497 reviews364 followers
December 8, 2013
Australian contemporary YA is a big part of the reason why I thank God that eBooks have more than substantially widened my reading horizons. I've been to Australia twice in the past four years, and while finding Aussie books there is, of course, much easier, there are titles I can't seem to find anywhere in physical form or aren't terribly expensive. I'll Tell You Mine is one of them.

I started off not liking Kate much. She's a typical rebellious teenager - she dresses Goth, does nothing but argue with her mum, doesn't study much, hangs out with "the bad kids". Her parents demand she stays at her boarding school (she was a day student before) when she does something almost unforgivable to her mum during one of their constant fights. When Kate starts living at Norris Grammar, she makes a new close friend, Maddy, and has to grapple with bitchy girls, the politics of boarding school and her growing crush on Maddy's big brother, Lachlan.

Kate isn't like me at all. This is one of those rare cases when I sympathise with a character I can't relate to, and slowly changed my mind about over the course of the book. Kate makes some stupid decisions, like ditching detention to sneak off to a party with her "bad kid" friends, taking Maddy with her and getting her stupid drunk when they'd be kicked out of school if they were discovered, very teenish stuff. But she grows up in the second half, which I found extremely satisfying.

Parents are often missing in contemp YA. Not here! There's great progress in Kate's relationship with her family. That's the thing about Aussie YA: it holds no punches. They are books you could effortlessly translate into real life. Sometimes you don't necessarily want to read paranormal or fantasy; in that case, you can't go wrong picking up a Melina Marchetta or Cath Crowley or I'll Tell You Mine.

Definitely recommended if you bow at the writing fingers of those Down Under!
Profile Image for Nomes.
384 reviews377 followers
June 24, 2017
I love the way Harry writes: fresh, with a lot of energy and soul. Her teen voice (and teen characters) felt so authentic and the story rang true. It also features boarding schools and mother/daughter relationships -- which are definite draw cards for me.

I found myself liking Kate a lot more as the book went on (at the beginning she was a lot for me to take in. I am not normally drawn to darker/more edgy work, or girls acting out. But this book was so much more than that -- and I really felt Harry did an incredible job with Kate's character arc and with nailing the intensity of teenage feelings and relationships).

I also found that the second half of the book was unputdownable -- by then I was very much drawn into Kate's world and wanted everything to work out okay for her <3 I love how the plot took me places I did not anticipate. Pip Harry has a fantastic voice for YA and I'm looking forward to reading more of Harry's work (Hopefully there will be another book soon!).
Profile Image for oliviasbooks.
772 reviews512 followers
February 18, 2015
I loved Kate's voice. Period. I even dreamed of her tonight. And I do understand why Melina Marchetta chose to blurb this story about growing up, growing apart from and close again to your family, and about finding friendship growing in unexpected corners. There was a certain rawness to the feelings conveyed, a lot of truth and also a measurable quantity of warmth. Ah... And certainly there were seedlings of romance. Painful and exhilarating as it can be when you are fifteen and unsure of yourself.
Profile Image for Laura Morrigan.
Author 1 book45 followers
May 15, 2012
It's nice to read a book about a Goth character where she can come to terms with the problems in her life and not have to suddenly become 'normal'. She is allowed to have her own identity, and be true to herself.

I really liked the book from the get-go. In some ways, Kate reminded me of my teenage self, in others, she was totally different, but she was a character I could identify with. This line really struck me as describing my sense of difference. 'I was lonely and homesick- the new girl who didn't fit in. I liked creative writing and art. The other girls liked boys, pop songs and doing each other's hair (p142).

This story so perfectly evokes that friction between parents and child when they realise you are no longer that little child they wanted you to stay forever. When they realise they hate the way you dress and the friends you keep, but still can't go of trying to turn you back into that child, not accepting that it is gone, and this is a part of growing up.

I loved so many characters in this. I loved Kate, her cool laid back surfie dad, who encouraged her to express herself how she wanted and gave her great rock and Goth rock music to listen to. I couldn't help but wish he was my uncle or something. I liked the back stories and hidden lives of all the different characters, that were slowly revealed throughout the story. The story unwound at just the right pace. The flashbacks were perfectly placed to give an idea of her home life, but to keep the secrets right up until the end.

I found it a little hard to believe that her parents would give her a 'longer leash', but maybe that's just my own personal experiences with overprotective adults. The whole bush thing really wasn't my scene, but it worked well in the story. I liked the sense of hope and building relationships that it ended with.

I finished this book in one evening, it was hard to put down. I thoroughly recommend it, especially for teenagers. While Kate is a Goth, her struggles are those that are experienced by many teenagers, and I think there is something in her that we can all relate to. There is a little G-Girl in all of us.
Profile Image for Paula Weston.
Author 6 books850 followers
March 25, 2013
This was such a great read.

I loved that Kate was so real and vulnerable, a believable mix of rebellion, uncertainty and guilt.

I loved the family dysfunction, particularly the simmering anger between Kate and her mother - and the underlying sense that there's enough love in this family to get beyond the hurt and tension.

I wanted to find out what it was that was so bad Kate was sent to boarding school, and I wanted her to face up to the consequences. I also wanted to see which new friendships stuck, and how things were going to work out with the very sweet Lachy.

Pip Harry's writing is fresh and witty, peppered with self-effacing humour, warmth and an endearing (and appropriately awkward) honesty.

It all added up to an addictive, page-turning read that I struggled to put down. I loved it.
Profile Image for Magan.
352 reviews86 followers
August 27, 2012
[Review originally posted on Rather Be Reading]

Kate Elliot is a girl who found her identity when she allowed her friend Annie to give her a makeover. Despite her mother’s blatant disapproval over her new gothic look, Kate won’t falter from dressing this way. While nothing ever seems to please her career-driven politician mother, Kate’s behavior and an unknown mishap (the mystery is unraveled throughout the book) eventually lead her to boarding school. She is no longer welcome in her own home and her parents decide she needs more structure; the time away from her family (they hope) will improve Kate’s attitude and allow their broken relationships to mend.

Kate is forced to room with three very different girls — two popular girls and one rule-breaker with a reputation, Mandy. Kate goes through periods of absolute resentment and distances herself completely from the three girls. Mandy eventually breaks the barrier and forces her way into Kate’s life. They’re an odd pair — Kate stands out because she’s got multiple piercings, dies her hair black, and intentionally wears makeup a few shades paler than her skin tone; Mandy wears skimpy clothes and has a reputation for being a bit slutty. Their friendship was one of the most beautiful aspects (other than Harry’s lovely writing) of I’ll Tell You Mine. Their conversations are full of snark and laugh-out-loud funny moments. Their antics (or rather Mandy’s plans) often lead to trouble.

Mandy is honest and upfront about how she’s feeling; she isn’t afraid of the front Kate puts up to dissuade people from befriending her. Mandy seems utterly naive to Kate’s insecurities and solitary ways. As Mandy begins to strip away the walls Kate has built around herself, we get to know Kate in a whole new way. She’s distraught over the events that occurred with her mother. Why does it seem like she’s always messing things up and doing something to irritate her mom? She misses her dad (who understands self-exploration and calls her mother out on her hypocrisy). Her little sister is one of her favorite people in the world; she wants to set a good example for her.

Kate feels stuck between making new friends and maintaining the old friendships; her two best friends (pre-boarding school) Annie and Noah seem to be moving on just fine without her. She’s heartbroken when she learns that Noah is dating someone new. Will he never see that she’s in love with him? Kate goes through many a transformation and the separation from her life outside of school allows everything to shift into focus. She sees what she was doing wrong, how she could be better, and what she could change.

The question is: Will she ever be given the opportunity to prove she’s a different person or will she just continue to mess things up?

I’ll Tell You Mine is a story I didn’t want to end. Pip’s writing is concise and packed with punch, every word very intentional. I connected to Kate on so many levels — struggling to become your own person but feeling like you’re always coloring outside the lines, being a bit insecure about how you look and what you weigh, and wanting that boy you’ve loved for oh-so-long to finally take notice. The friendship and family aspects were so thoroughly explored and impeccably written; I projected more drama into the book by not always trusting Mandy’s intentions or assuming the worst. Time and time again, Pip proved me wrong and restored my faith in her characters.

Pip’s writing is authentic and realistic. She flawlessly developed a story that everyone should devour. There are a few wonderful surprise gems hidden within the pages of I’ll Tell You Mine (possibly including a love story that made my heart go pitter patter). If you’re interested in a story that’s very true-to-life and will sweep you away, definitely take a chance on Pip Harry’s debut novel.

(Thank you very much to Mandee at VeganYANerds for gifting this incredible book to me!)
Profile Image for Steph.
178 reviews124 followers
April 17, 2012
When I started reading I'll Tell You Mine, I was under the impression it was for a younger YA audience, and I am not exactly sure why - I think it may have been the vagueness of the blurb, and the fact that the protagonist is 15. It turns out I was wrong. I think this is more of a 14+ YA (though really, nothing so bad a mature but younger reader couldn't pick it up). It's nowhere near as generic as the blurb may suggest - there was a realness to the book, and to Kate, that made the traditional-YA-plotline (rebellious girl goes to boarding school, finds self, friends, love) into a brilliant novel. The rebelliousness of Kate seemed so genuine, I felt that it could have been written by someone going through teenagerdom right now (this is a compliment! I think teenagers can write well about being teenagers! As can adults who think the teenage experience is a legitimately challenging thing, and can relate to it, still). The mystery of the 'big secret' wasn't what kept me reading - it was the wonderful but unpretentious writing, and how easy the protagonist was to relate to (speaking as the least rebellious person in the history of the universe). Kate's relationship with her parents was perfectly done, as were her various romantic pursuits - no false perfection here. The Melbourne setting - and her trip to the country - were familiar and well-captured. There was an honesty and rawness to the novel which I loved. I can think of so many teenage girls I know who would enjoy this.
Profile Image for Bree T.
2,085 reviews87 followers
May 6, 2012
Kate Elliot has a terrible secret. Something so horrible that she can’t even bear to speak it out loud. And now Kate’s mother, who can barely look at her has decided that they need some space. Kate isn’t happy at home, has been acting out and the best thing might be for Kate to become a boarder at the school where she is usually a day girl.

Even though she’s attended the school since year 7, Kate hasn’t made many friends and she doesn’t know much about the boarding aspect. She’s horrified when the rules are read out and when she discovers that she’ll be sharing with 3 other girls – bitchy Harriet, swim star Jess and Maddy, branded the school slut. Kate is a Goth – she’d different in just about every way to the other girls. She doesn’t fit in as a boarder any more than she fit in as a day girl. She’s branded a freak – and that’s without anyone even knowing her terrible secret.

At first Kate is determined to keep her distance from everyone, closing herself off and looking for chances to break the rules. But Maddy sneaks in under Kate’s radar and the two develop a friendship that becomes deeply important to both of them. They are both struggling with issues – Maddy lost her mother to cancer recently and her ways of coping have led her to be judged by the other girls. Except Kate. Kate is too used to being judged herself to do it to anyone else.

Through Maddy, Kate has even found a nice boy that she could like…one that would actually give her the time of day, unlike Nate, the boy she has been pining after. Kate finds herself with fledgling hopes – she’s become used to the routines of boarding school, she has someone she can talk to in Maddy and she has the possibility of a sweet romance. But she fears she could lose all these things if anyone were to discover her terrible secret and the thing is…secrets? They have a way of always coming out.

One of my favourite new discoveries this year is the VeganYANerds blog. I saw a review for this book and immediately filed it away to pick up some time – Aussie YA is so amazing and this book ticks most, if not all of my boxes. Boarding school? I love boarding school novels. Blurbed by the amazing Melina Marchetta? Have to read it!

As much as I love boarding school novels, they are often pretty fanciful. Big rooms, kids coming and going as they please, relatively little going on in the ways of classes and work. I didn’t go to boarding school but I did spend two years on campus at University and I think there’s definitely some similarities. What I appreciated, what I loved about this book was the realism. And it extended from the characters, from Kate to her family to the girls at the boarding school to the boarding school itself, the fact that the girls shared rooms, the disgusting meals they were served (oh did it bring back memories of my time in the dorms, eating at the catered dining hall), Kate learning to do her own laundry. There is such an authenticity in every layer of this novel, starting with the beautiful, broken relationships between the members of Kate’s family. Her mother is a busy politician, slowly spending more and more time away from home and away from the family. Her easy-going father is mostly a stay at home dad, a surfer who remembers the days when Kate’s mother liked to travel to music festivals and let her hair down a bit. They are unhappy, fighting and it’s rubbing off on Kate and her younger sister. Kate is at that age where she’s starting to push boundaries, where she’s seeing her parents say one thing and do another and doesn’t see why she should conform if other people in the family aren’t making the effort. She feels that they are abandoning her, wiping their hands of her by sending her to board even though she knows that what she did was utterly terrible.

Whilst the reader is quite easily able to figure out Kate’s secret, for me, it didn’t lessen the shock of the reveal at all. Kate is clearly going through a lot of things – she’s very angry, she’s very confused and she’s very hurt and no one is really taking the time to talk to her. People are talking at her which isn’t really helping her at all. Kate is young, so her reactions can be partially accorded to that but she’s also out of control. She needs calming down, she needs structure and she needs to feel as though she is worthy. Interestingly enough, boarding school helps her. What she believes is the worst thing that could’ve possibly happened slowly begins to bring out the best of her and she begins to mature and find the strength she needs to address her issues with her parents and actually talk about them, instead of yelling, storming off to her room and slamming the door.

I’ll Tell You Mine is a fabulous book – beautifully and sensitively written. Pip Harry is an exciting addition to the very talented stable of Aussie YA authors out there and I’ll definitely be on the lookout for her future releases.
Profile Image for Liz.
247 reviews11 followers
April 30, 2012
(This review originally posted here.)

Boarding schools. They have captured my imagination ever since, aged seven, I was heartbroken to be told by my mum that I couldn't go to St Clare's because it didn't exist.

Part of me likes to think that somewhere in the Bernese Oberland the Chalet School is going strong, still churning out trilingual girls who become teachers and then marry doctors. And that on the Cornish coast, Rebecca Mason is still practising her tennis while the other girls learn to surf.

One of the reasons I initially fell in love with the Harry Potter books was because of the way JK Rowling plays with the boarding school trope. Hogwarts is basically an old-fashioned boarding school that happens to teach magic, and Rowling sticks to the academic year structure throughout the books (although oh, how I missed the school setting in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows).

In I'll Tell You Mine, Pip Harry brings the boarding school trope bang up to date and into the southern hemisphere. Fifteen-year-old Kate Elliot has done something terrible: so terrible that her family is shunting her off to the local boarding school so they don't have to deal with her. As you would expect, she is not happy about this, and things don't get any better when she finds herself sharing a dormitory with the in-crowd and another girl who's as much of an outcast as herself.

Kate is a goth -- which, at school, makes her a freak. Worse than this, boarding school also presents a major obstacle to socialising with her friends, fellow goth Annie and musician Nate. Obviously, Kate isn't going to take all this lying down...

I loved Kate as a character, even if sometimes I wanted to shake her. She's sad and snarky and vulnerable -- and completely believable at every turn. And as we gradually learn more about the events leading up to her banishment, we realise that no one person is to blame.

I think that might be my favourite aspect of the novel. Pip Harry writes all the characters sensitively; even the people who initially seem to lead charmed lives are flawed and they all do bad or stupid things, but as a reader I could always understand why they did them. The progression of the relationship between Kate and her mother is truly touching, and I speak as someone who had a torrid relationship with her own mother in her teens. Nothing is straightforward, and this novel reflects that perfectly.

Kate's voice comes through very strongly right from the first page -- but despite the teenage diction that peppers the pages, the writing feels very precise, as if every word has earned its place. Similarly, Kate's family history feels fully realised, but there's no superfluous information. Everything she tells us is for a reason. One of the more beautiful moments of the book -- Kate's memory of a family holiday, in which, "Liv was too young to have a go on her own but Dad chucked her on the front of his wide Mal and pulled her up to her feet. She was screaming with excitement when she crested down the front of the wave with Dad's hand clutching at the back of her bathers." -- is principally there for contrast. "That was a highlight." The rest of the holiday is memorable, not for its good moments, but for its failures and for what Kate learned about her parents' marriage.

To return to the boarding school setting, I loved that the school remained a character until the end. Sometimes with YA literature it feels as if the author can't wait to get the characters away from the constraints of school, but here, Pip Harry uses every aspect of boarding school life to broaden the story. And despite Kate's mixed feelings about it, I've added Norris Grammar to my mental list of "schools I would like to have known". Which is about the best compliment I can pay the book, really.

Version I read: University of Queensland Press paperback from Kinokuniya Sydney. Also available online at fishpond.com.au.
Pip Harry blogs at http://www.pipharry.com/
Profile Image for Carrie.
36 reviews1 follower
August 16, 2012
This is a great new YA book from an up and coming Aussie author.
Pip's writing style is reminiscent in many ways of John Marsden, mostly in the realism of her characters, the settings and the plot. This is one of those Aussie YA books that doesn't hide the fact that it's Australian, and I love that.
The main character, Kate, has a well defined voice which makes her instantly relatable. My only issue with Kate, and the book as a whole, is that I cannot understand the reasoning behind making her a "Goth." At first I thought it was because I can't really relate to this culture (to be honest, I have no interest in it whatsoever), but a second reading led me to the belief that it just doesn't fulfill it's purpose, which I assume was to make the character original, to make her stand out amongst characters from competitor's books. I think this facet of Kate's character had potential that was never realised. I would like to have been become interested in the Goth culture and lifestyle from reading this, but it didn't happen. I think this is just a result of the author not having any real experience with that particular lifestyle herself, therfore not being able to portray it in a manner that was as realistic as the rest of the book.
That flaw aside, everything else was wonderful. Even minor characters had depth and life, to the point where I would happily read further books about a lot of them. Harriet and Maddy in particular.
As I tweeted the author the other day, reading this book was like stepping back into fifteen year old me's shoes, and a lot of that had to do with the way the characters were written. these were girls that I knew, girls that I'd been friends and enemies with back in year ten. These characters were so real they could have easily jumped off the page and into life.
Obviously the author had the upper hand, writing a boarding school fic that was pretty much set in her old boarding school (names changed, but it was glaringly evident which school it was), but that doesn't dampen my enthusiasm for the setting. Her first-hand experience with boarding is what lends so much of the realism to the story.
To be honest, there is nothing groundbreaking about the plot - standing alone it's a pretty run-of-the-mill coming of age type story, but Pip's writing style and wonderfully developed characters made it a fantastic read.
I am thoroughly looking forward to reading more from her.
Profile Image for Michelle.
171 reviews100 followers
August 28, 2015
This is yet another book I should have read sooner. After loving Harry’s latest novel, Head of the River, I knew I had to go back and read her debut. And, unsurprisingly, I wasn’t disappointed. I’ll Tell You Mine was an enjoyable and touching look at the struggle to fit in, best friends and the relationship between mother and daughter.

I love Harry’s effortlessly enjoyable writing style. That, combined with relatable characters means I was hooked from the first page. Just like with Head of the River, I found most of the characters, particularly Kate, really engaging. I love that there’s always something in Harry’s characters almost everyone can relate to. I really enjoyed the look at life in a girls boarding school in I’ll Tell You Mine. Harry is one of the very few writers who can explore teenage female friendships in such a deep, meaningful and honest way, while still keeping things fun.

Apart from the brilliant look at the ups and downs of making friends when you’ve always been the outsider, Harry explores the relationship between mother and daughter. Kate’s mother made me so angry at the start of the book and it was nice to see things start to change towards the end. Although, I was sad for them that things had to get to that stage at all. It annoys me when parents are absent in YA novels, so I was pleased this was a major part of Kate’s story. It felt so real and I’m sure many people can relate, even in a small way, to fighting with parents during teen years.

Overall, I don’t think I quite loved this as much as Head of the River, but I still loved it. And it’s still one of my favourite reads this year. I’ll Tell You Mine is fun, honest and touching. Brilliant work by one of my new favourite authors.

This review and many more can be found at The Unfinished Bookshelf.
Profile Image for Jess.
627 reviews26 followers
August 12, 2012
I won a copy of I'll Tell You Mine in a Goodreads giveaway. Thanks to Pip Harry, the author, for generously sending a copy all the way from Australia!

I really liked I'll Tell You Mine a lot. Set in a boarding school in Australia, this book follows the story of Kate Elliot. She's a teenage girl who gets kicked out of her parents house and sent to live at the school during the middle of the year. She faces the challenges you would imagine this situation creates. She befriends one of her roommates, Maddy, who sees past her Goth exterior and sees Kate for the person that she really is.

And you know what? Because she's the protagonist and it's 1st person POV, that's how I felt about her too. From the very beginning of this story, Kate shares with the readers that she did something Very Bad to get kicked out of home and sent to boarding school. This fact comes up throughout the novel, but the secret of what she did is never disclosed. Finally, it gets revealed towards the very end and yes, it was a very bad thing. But by the end of the book, you feel like you know her so well and that she's nothing like the bad girl her parents think she is. It kind of softens the blow of what she did. I couldn't even believe it would have been Kate that did it.

A significant part of the story is the mother-daughter relationship between Kate and her mom. Her mother is a politician who has put work ahead of family for the past several years, and continues to prioritize it more and more. It's easy to tell from early on that this relationship has affected Kate in lots of ways, not the least of which is her attitude and behavior. There is a turning point which I appreciated, but it still didn't gloss over the hard work and challenges ahead.

The whole novel felt very realistic to me, and I could see this being someone's real life story. It's a great read, and I'm so glad that I was the lucky winner of Pip Harry's giveaway on Goodreads!
Profile Image for Sophie.
88 reviews
May 12, 2012
I had to read and review this for my work experience at a magazine. My review is quite favourable as I treated the book only as a light read YA novel, but honestly this is never the type of book I read and I was not impressed by my usual standards. Regardless it is a decent read and my review was as follows:

In Pip Harry’s first novel ‘I’ll Tell You Mine”, the troubled Kate Elliot finds herself forced into boarding school after an untold disastrous event seems to ruin her already fragile relationship with her mother. Unfortunately, boarding school is essentially Kate’s worst nightmare – see, she’s a 15-year-old gothic misfit whose only two friends are well out of school – and she’s now faced with the fact that her family doesn’t want her around anymore. She struggles to navigate her way through the school days, trying to keep away from her fellow students all the while hiding her secret. She resolves to keep out of trouble, but still decides to sneak out of school with her old friends to parties and regularly skips meal times to hang out with a new friend or by herself. Over the course of the novel, we see Kate grow and mature into a stronger, happier person and eventually find out about the event that caused her to get kicked out of home. Unlikely friendships are made, and there’s a great set of supporting characters including the awesome bad-girl Maddy Minogue, Kate’s politician mother and surfer dad, and her two love interests – one of her older ‘alternative’ friends Nate and Maddy’s brother Lachlan. The book actually deals with a lot of serious themes such as death, sex, drugs and violence, and I begun to find myself really engrossed in the story, especially by the second half. Pip Harry has written a surprisingly moving tale about finding yourself somewhere in all the chaos of a broken family, strained friendships, school stress and forbidden love.
Profile Image for Rachel.
3 reviews
June 8, 2012
Finally, I'll Tell You Mine is on shelves and I couldn’t be prouder for my fellow reality chick, Pip Harry. Streamers have been hung and champagne has been quaffed, because, you know, it’s not every day that one of your best buddies becomes a published author.
The story revolves around Kate, a teenage goth who’s a little, shall we say, authority-challenged. It doesn’t help that her mum is a super-busy, often-absent politician without much time for her family – including Kate’s laidback dad and her younger sister, Liv. Kate kids herself that she doesn’t care – she’d rather hang out with her Goth friends Annie and Nate, a guy she’s had a crush on since forever. But when, one evening, Kate back-chats her mum for the last time and family tensions reach boiling point, the 16-year-old finds herself unceremoniously packed off to boarding school harbouring a terrible secret. Sharing a room with a bunch of mean girls, surviving on dodgy boarding house fare and breaking one rule after another, Kate struggles to fit in. But a friendship stems from the unlikeliest source, and with it brings lessons on life, love and most of all, growing up.
I love the characters in this book. They’re real and they’re raw. So many parts of the story also triggered memories of my own school days, in all their awkward, painful and unforgettable glory. I predict YA fiction fans will lap this up (teens especially)! We're giving away five signed copies at reality chick over the next few weeks, so don't miss out on entering. (You just have to tell us about your, ahem, high school crush.)
Profile Image for Readingee.
168 reviews
February 8, 2014
This book was pretty dark, however, I really adored this book, I found it quite different and one I didn't think I would like. Not my typical book, by judging from the front cover I wouldn't pick it up and be excited by it. But it really surprised me!

One of the main aspects which kept me reading this book was wanting to know Kate's secret and what she did. As I was nearing the end, I was beginning to think that I was never going to find out what she did. I loved how Maddy and Kate sort of just clicked - and the simple gesture of sharing chocolate beginning their friendship. One thing I found pretty cliche, was the supposedly "hot" brother, and where the best friend or any friend for that matter develops and crush. It was really typical in a novel like this, and a relationship I knew would work.

In a way Kate's parents sort of frustrated me, especially the mother. She didn't seem to put any effort in her family life, and almost seemed like she didn't want a family. Although, towards the end of the novel I liked how she began to take interest in the life of her children and her husband.

The boarding school life, although also cliche always gets me in a book! This book was no different, most of the time the controversy and the stories in a boarding school are pretty much the same, but I find it more thrilling when the protagonist is rebellious!

Overall, this book was riveting and I am glad they revealed her secret at the end - I would annoy me if they didn't, books that do that actually quite frustrate me. The setting of Australia made me like it more, I like it when books are home grown!
Profile Image for Tina.
542 reviews17 followers
June 17, 2012
Kate Elliot has done something bad. Something so bad that her parents have kicked her out of home - sent her off to boarding school. Pip Harry builds the suspense around Kate’s terrible action beautifully and dramatically, with tiny hints sprinkled through the narrative, keeping the reader guessing right through to the end.

Kate is full of anger and attitude. But her sassy manner, direct language and brash exterior hide a fifteen year old girl desperately trying to work out how to navigate life and how to fit in, with her peers and with her family. When Kate meets Annie and Nate and transforms into a Goth, she finally feels like herself, like the invisibility she experiences at school is gone.

Over the course of events, Kate matures considerably. Her unrequited love for Nate, through to learning how to live with the other girls at boarding school and a new romance, help Kate to discover who she wants to be. She learns about trust and judging people by their actions rather than their exteriors, as well as a lot about secrets.

All too often the parents in teenage novels end up as simple caricatures. Kate’s parents don’t fall into this trap though. Her overworked, overstressed and overcommitted politician mother has her own faults and shortcomings, while Kate’s relaxed, carefree father offers a perfect opposite viewpoint to her mother.

Kate’s unique voice makes this story about growing up and growing wiser a delight to experience. The cast of well developed interesting characters make this a rich and interesting read for secondary students.
Profile Image for Kristen My Bookish Fairy Tale.
389 reviews27 followers
January 15, 2013
I'll Tell You Mine is a great coming of age story.Kate Elliot doesn't feel like she belongs anywhere. She wants to be anything but normal. So she has radically changed her behaviour and her appearance. But hiding behind a new appearance doesn't change the hurt inside.

This is a great story of teenage angst. Kate has been so caught up in being anything other than normal that she has lost herself in the process. Kate's biggest problem is trying to relate to her mother. She never seems to have time for her anymore but she is a constant nagging force in Kate's world. Kate truly feels like everyone is against her.

After a dramatic incident with her mother, Kate is sent to live full time at her local boarding school. She hates going to school as it is but having to live there? Kate befriends a most unlikely girl. These two couldn't be more opposite. But it turns out that they have more in common than they think. Kate is always finding "love" in all the wrong places. But when she meets Laughlin, they have a real connection.

I really enjoyed this book. Pip does a wonderful job of connecting you to Kate. Heck I felt like I was 16 again while I was reading this. I couldn't keep my eyes off the pages. I enjoyed every minute of Kate's adventure.
Profile Image for Melissa-Jane.
46 reviews
April 10, 2012
From the very first paragraph 'I'll Tell You Mine' shocked me! I won't explain exactly what it was that shocked me because I think it best for people to read it themselves, but it definitely ensured that I liked the book immediately and didn't want to stop reading.
'I'll Tell You Mine' was very well written and I found it refreshing to read a story that was realistic and really told a story that accurately reflected the lives of teenage girls. There were so many things that I could absolutely relate to, whether it be teenage boy/girl drama, the love of chocolate, anger issues or love and hate relationships between parents.
It really appealed to the rebellious, troubled teenager that I used to be and I don't doubt that many others could see themselves in this story, whether they are like gothic/angry Kate, slightly tomboyish but beautiful model-like Maddy, sporty Jess, perfect, stuck up Harriet or any of the other vibrant characters in the story.
Pip Harry has done a brilliant job at perfectly encapsulating the way in which teenage girls think and behave in real life.
September 30, 2015
If Melina Marchetta recommends it, that's good enough for me. There is a lot to like about this coming-of-age novel, and readers (particularly those who are Australian, attended boarding school, grew up in the shadow of a success parent, ambitious or rebellious) will identify with Kate and her friends. I certainly pictured the whole story against the backdrop of my own school.

Something to complement 'Looking for Aibrandi', and 'The story of Tom Brennan' in school libraries and reading lists.
Profile Image for Li.
1,039 reviews29 followers
November 14, 2013
Boarding School + Aussie YA = Must Give This A Go

Pip Harry is a new-to-me author and I didn't regret reading her debut. Like most other Aussie YAs I've read, this book had a really strong sense of place, and I found her take on modern boarding schools and female friendships refreshing. I was less won over by Kate's Big Secret (I'LL TELL YOU MINE is what I term as an "issue" YA book) and the obligatory romance, but overall a good and absorbing read
Profile Image for Olivia.
7 reviews
January 18, 2014
This book was so good, I could barely put it down. It was nice to read this book because I had gone through a stage where I didn't feel like reading any of the books I had started reading but luckily with this book I was able to make it through to the end.
This book had great characters and a excellent plot. I guess I found myself liking it alot because I could relate to some of it. Also the mystery, it made me want to know what had happened.
2 reviews1 follower
April 26, 2012
Being a guy, I was reluctant to pick up my first book aimed at teenage girls but on a recommendation I purchased a copy. It was a superb account of life in Australian boarding schools and Goth culture. I'd highly recommend it for the seasoned Young Adult reader and someone starting out in YA such as myself.
Profile Image for Pam Saunders.
580 reviews9 followers
June 16, 2012
Kate has found a new identity and her mother does not like it, it is an embarrassment to her political career and they fight constantly. So much that even the mediator father can't stop Kate being sent to board at her private school. Kate, the goth finds it hard but her friendship with Maddy helps as does learning what her true identity is.

Profile Image for Morag77.
31 reviews2 followers
April 30, 2012
Fantastic. Brilliant, real characters who tug at your heart strings. A page-turning plot. Pitch-perfect dialogue. Has Pip Harry been recording teen conversations? Took me right back to high school. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Wai Chim.
Author 7 books152 followers
December 18, 2012
A very well written and well paced story. The characters are instantly relatable and familiar albeit unique at the same time. I found myself drawn into the boarding school world that Harry has set up very well. Definitely recommend it for YA lovers and looking to reading more from this author.
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