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just_a_girl

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3.55  ·  Rating details ·  145 ratings  ·  57 reviews
just_a_girl tears into the fabric of contemporary culture. A Puberty Blues for the digital age, a Lolita with a webcam, it’s what happens when young girls are forced to grow up too fast. Or never get the chance to grow up at all.

Layla is only 14. She cruises online. She catches trains to meet strangers. Her mother, Margot, never suspects. Even when Layla brings a man into
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Paperback, 272 pages
Published June 1st 2013 by University of Western Australia Publishing
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3.55  · 
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 ·  145 ratings  ·  57 reviews


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Amanda
just_a_girl by Kirsten Krauth is set in the Western Suburbs of Sydney and the Blue Mountains. Fourteen year old Layla enjoys spending time online, chatting to men, spending time with her older boyfriend, and avoiding her mum and the church she attends. Her mum has depression and finds herself attracted to the pastor. And a stranger, Tadashi, struggles with finding his one true love.

I’ll start off by saying that just_a_girl is being listed as adult fiction, but I do think this would be fine for o
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Shelleyrae at Book'd Out
Jun 13, 2013 rated it really liked it

just_a_girl is the screen name of the precocious and provocative fourteen year old Layla. For Layla, school is uninteresting, her mum is lame, her father absent and she amuses herself by exploring her budding sexuality with her boyfriend, random strangers and a much older man she identifies as Mr C.

Layla's behaviour can be confronting but it is characterised by the expected turmoil of adolescence as she explores versions of herself and tries to make sense of the power she both has, and lacks. T
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Brenda
Fourteen year old Layla was completely aware of her budding sexuality and used it in a provocative but reckless way. She was bored with school but when something interested her she became involved, though not in a way you would expect. The danger of her crush (for want of another word) on Mr C, for whom she made a sexually explicit home video of herself, then posted it onto YouTube made you realize how naïve this young girl really was. She had no respect for her mother, who it must be admitted, ...more
Annabel Smith
Kirsten Krauth's 'just_a_girl' is a tense, edgy and compelling insight into adolescence which I read in a single sitting.

The central character, Layla is 14 years old. Seemingly streetwise and social media savvy, she has the terrifying overconfidence of the young and puts herself at tremendous risk with her sexual behaviour, which includes meeting up with older men she has connected with online. Her recklessness creates a sense of ongoing dread in the reader, which contributes to the suspense of
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ALPHAreader
Jul 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Layla is just_a_girl.

She goes to school, goes to work. Gets groped by her boss, pawed in the train toilets by her boyfriend. She uploads videos of herself writhing in bed for Mr. C. She cuts out articles about her gay celebrity-chef dad who buggered off to Queensland. And she meets older online men in hotel rooms.

Margot is Layla’s mother, coming off meds and discovering God. She has a crush on the local pastor and reluctantly wears tiaras with his perfect wife. It all went wrong somewhere; mayb
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RitaSkeeter
I feel a bit the same way I did after reading Vann's Aquarium. On one hand weighing up what is high quality writing, and on the other hand subject matter that is challenging and uncomfortable to read.

Krauth has three narrators in her book; Layla, Layla's mother Margot, and a Japanese Australian man called Tadashi. All struggle with themes of loss, isolation, disconnection. All are seeking meaning in their lives. For Margot, this is through an evangelical Hillsong type church. Tadashi finds meani
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Angela Meyer
This post is adapted from my speech for the Castlemaine launch of Kirsten Krauth’s just_a_girl, and also appears on my blog http://literaryminded.com.au.



There are three main characters in Kirsten Krauth’s excellent, powerful and confronting debut novel just_a_girl: teenage Layla, her mother Margot and a lonely Japanese man, Tadashi.

As someone who had the internet at Layla’s age — 14 — I would also say her experience as rendered in the novel is incredibly accurate. She acts out, though she’s nev
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Angela Savage
Nov 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
In just_a_girl, Kirsten Krauth has crafted a novel both edgy and lyrical.

The story unfolds from the perspective of three characters: Layla, who turns 15 in the course of the narrative; her mother, Margot, a disappointed dreamer who seeks solace in religion; and the lonely Tadashi, who moves like a phantom through the narrative. But the dominant voice is Layla’s, and it is stunning in its authenticity.

As the parent of a young daughter, there are aspects of Layla's story—such as the challenges of
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Ellie Marney
Just_a_girl looks dark and shiny on the outside...and this is reflected in the words inside. Kirsten Krauth has a beautiful way with words, and 14-year-old Layla speaks to you in a raw and unflinching tone all the way to the end - it was SO raw, there were times I had to look away, because I was scared for how Layla puts herself out there in such an uncompromising way. But the language and the story dragged me back in, and it was fascinating to read about a secret life lived in public. Chilling, ...more
Jayne Lamb
The premise of this was interesting enough - 14 year old girl lives a sleazy, meandering existence her newly-religous mother knows nothing about, and her dad has left the family for another man. Unfortunately, the author's choice to write everything in Layla's voice. Like this. With every sentence. Broken up into four pieces. Made the book. Completely unreadable.
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Layla is fourteen and living with her mother, Margot, in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales. Her dad, Geoff, is gay and a professional chef living in Queensland. Using the alias, just_a_girl, Layla cruises online chatrooms meeting grown men and arranging hookups. She has a boyfriend, Davo, until she discovers he's been seeing her best friend, Sarah, behind her back. She picks up a job at the local supermarket where one of the owners, a butcher, molests the female staff. But his son, Marco, ca ...more
Bree T
Nov 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Layla is just 14 years old. She lives with her single mother who has turned to religion since her husband, Layla’s father left. While Margot is at work or church (and sometimes even when she’s home), Layla cruises online on her laptop in her bedroom, meeting men. She catches trains to meet strangers for hook ups, even travelling all the way from her home in the lower mountains to Newcastle, meeting up with a man in his early 30s.

Layla is perpetually bored by things – her boyfriend is older than
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Scarlet
Aug 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: adults (parents) and teens
This book is disturbing in a good way, dark and compelling. Beautifully written, honest and raw story of a young girl's quest for love or lack thereof.

The story is told through the voices of three characters (3 POVs): Layla, her mother Margot, and a disconnected young Japanese man, Tadashi.

Dominant voice is Layla’s. Layla is 14 years old and just_a_girl is her screen nick name. Her parents are separated and she rarely sees her father. Her story has very strong sexual content. But it's also sad
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Rowena
Feb 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
I must admit that I found the beginning of just_a_girl really hard to stomach. Layla is just 14 and is extremely sexually adventurous and provocative. She seeks out relationships with older men online. In the first couple of chapters I could feel my toes curling up and my heart pounding, my daughter is 8 years off Layla’s age … I found Layla's behaviour terrifying …

Eventually, the confronting nature of the book did soften a little, and I was able to settle in to reading about Layla’s rather unfo
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Melissa Wray
Aug 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
I have so many mixed feelings about this book. This tells me that Krouth is a talented writer to be able to invoke such conflicting opinions through her writing.

The story is told from three perspectives. Layla is 14 and often acts in a confronting and uncomfortable manner. I have a daughter who will be 14 one day. I think this was the cause of my concern for Layla.

Her mother’s character, Margot, unfolds gradually through the story. I enjoyed the slow transition. I think the length of her rambl
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Anna
Aug 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
I became totally engrossed in the story of teenage Layla, her mother Margot and the quiet Tadashi. A good one to read if you have a daughter who wil be grappling with growing up in the digital age of selfies, online bullying and fast-tracked sexual experience. Was it at times confronting? Yes, I feared for some young women, expected to be blase about all the milestones of sex'n'drugs'n'not'rocknroll. Thankfully I grew up in a simpler time.

I wanted to know what happened, I felt compelled to find
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Kym Cross
Nov 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Kirsten Krauth's debut novel just_a_girl, is a story that brings into focus the fears and challenges of living in the digital age. The three main characters Layla, Margot and Tadashi each have their vulnerabilities and damaged backgrounds, and Kirsten beautifully identifies their unique voices.

My initial reaction when I finished the book was, "please write a sequel", but maybe the story reached its natural conclusion.

One thing's for sure, with the story set in the surrounds of Sydney, it would t
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Michelle
Jun 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
You can read my guest review of just_a_girl over at Newtown Review of Books - click here.
Jessica
Jun 29, 2013 added it
Recommends it for: Fans of Puberty Blues
This book took me a little while to get into at first, but then I was hooked. Highly recommended for young adults! Thankyou to the author for this giveaway.
Adrian Deans
Nov 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Let me start by saying I almost never give 5 for reviews because I think 5s are given out too easily on this site and should be reserved for the truly exceptional. This book went pretty close.

I occasionally complain that no-one writes books any more that require a bit of effort from the reader.

Whatever happened to the dense and difficult works that we all remember from our literary upbringing? Fiction these days seems mostly to fall into two camps – the escapist holiday novel, or the didactic po
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Michael
“I’m just a girl, Take a good look at me. Just your typical prototype” – Just a Girl by No Doubt.

just_a_girl tells the story of Layla, a fourteen year old girl navigating the waters of adulthood and a budding sexuality. The novel is told from the three different perspectives, Layla, her religious mother Margot, and Tadashi, a stranger on a train. Through these three different sets of eyes we begin to see the complexities of growing up beginning to form.

This novel is marketed as “Puberty Blues fo
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Alinta
Nov 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In just_a_girl, Kirsten Krauth paints a world set on the trains of Sydney that is so real that it is at once both sweet and sickly, in which we realise that life is mainly a series of messy, loose or missed connections between people in constant transit. The three main characters, Layla, Margot, and Tadashi, are all attempting connections in their own ways, and all getting off at different stations.

Teenage Layla is curious to make connections, both real and digital. Like most of us, she is made
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Roz
Nov 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
just_a_girl is a fascinating novel with 3 distinct but interconnected narrative strands. The first voice is that of Layla, is a 14-year old girl with an absent father and a present but unengaged mother. Layla explores the power of her developing sexuality both with online strangers and with boys and men that she meets socially. Her mother Margot is in her own world - abandoned and humiliated by Layla's gay father, and with no family support herself, she turned to antidepressants followed by reli ...more
Lisa
Nov 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: c21st, australia, 14review
just_a_girl is an impressive debut novel from Kirsten Krauth, former Sydneysider but now established not far from Melbourne in the thriving regional arts community at Castlemaine. I am torn between admiration for the gritty authenticity of the main character’s voice and hoping that the author has got it wrong!

Let me explain: the story centres around Layla, 14 years old and an extreme risk-taker. Most readers will be holding an anxious breath from her very first lines:


The guy formerly known as yo
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Klare Lanson
Nov 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
the moment that I step outside
so many reasons for me to run and hide

 (lyrics by Gwen Stefani and Tom Dumont) 


Just_a_girl is a novel about a teenage girl coming of age, her mother’s internalised and fast paced struggle with the loneliness of social error and single parenting, and a beautifully poetic and introverted man who finds synthetic love in all its realness. It speaks to us of the issues that arise when the role of parenting is out of kilter with social media usage and the Internet. It rem
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Carly Bowden
Jun 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
just_a_girl was a dark, hard, yet utterly compelling read. I truly admire Kirsten Krauth for how she portrayed such sickening issues. Layla's voice was so incredibly believable. A read like this does make me afraid to ever have children for fear of the what the world could do to them. Probably the hardest thing about this book was just how believable the sexism/sexual abuse/harassment that Layla came up against, and I think, sadly, it is a true reflection of what girls do come up against in soci ...more
Walter Mason
Nov 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
After finishing the book I had the feeling I'd been skilfully managed by the author as she constantly teased my emotions, leaving me sliding from anxiety, into fear and out into a kind of defiant memory of adolescence that left me with very conflicted feelings about the state of contemporary early adulthood.
The novel’s heroine, Layla, is a sexually precocious 15 year-old, more woman than child, and struggling to fulfill the various roles she feels forced to fill. Kirsten Krauth is adept at crea
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Margaret
Jun 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This novel really surprises. It is an easy and fast read, leaving you at the end wanting more. The relationship between Layla and her mother draws you in deep as you keep wishing for some understanding of each for the other. They are both truly sympathetic characters. At any age, you will feel for the young, highly intelligent Layla who struggles, not only with the adult world but with the demeaning behaviour of her peers who, no doubt, are just as much out of control as she is.
My favourite voic
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Denise Boseley
Nov 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
I would rate just_a_girl as a very good read. Kirsten Krauth's written word was wonderful to explore, and the composition of the book with the main three characters having their separate chapters, and then interacting later, appealed to me.

Layla, with the technology available at her fingertips, made me feel so fearful for her, as she put herself at risk. I thought about that situation long after I had finished the book.
Margot, her mother was so well written. Kirsten also seemed to have a wry hu
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www.kirstenkrauth.com

My first novel just_a_girl was published in June 2013 to wonderful critical and popular response.

“So rarely do debut novels succeed on so many levels. Krauth is obviously a writer determined to unearth the injustices and inadequacies of our culture … young Layla and her struggle echo on long after reading.”
— Jon Bauer, Rocks in the Belly

I blog regularly on writing, writers an
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