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The Centre of My Everything

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Justin’s back, and wants to put the past behind him.

Corey’s a footy hero and high-school dropout who can’t even find work picking fruit.

Tara wants to be loved. But if her mother doesn’t care, why would anyone else?

Margo wants out, and she has a plan to get there.

Plans change. Life happens. Some secrets won’t stay buried. Peace isn’t as simple as laying bones to rest.

A story about love and loss. About tragic secrets and the lengths people will go to hide them. About intergenerational pain and desperate attempts to break the cycle. And about yearning for love and finding it where you least expect.

288 pages, Paperback

First published January 29, 2018

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About the author

Allayne L. Webster

10 books32 followers
Allayne is an author of Junior Fiction, Middle Grade and Young Adult literature. She’s the recipient of multiple arts grants, a Premier’s Reading Challenge Ambassador, and a former literary festival board member.
Paper Planes (Scholastic) was a 2016 Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Notable/shortlisted for the Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature. A Cardboard Palace (MidnightSun) was a 2018 CBCA Notable and published in Sweden. Our Little Secret (Scholastic) was listed for the Golden Inkys and has recently been republished by Ligature Press. The Centre of My Everything (PenguinRandomHouse) was listed in the 2019 Davitt Awards (crime) and shortlisted in the 2020 Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature. Sensitive (UQP) is published in Russia and was shortlisted in the 2020 Australian Speech Pathology Awards and is a 2023 IBBY Outstanding Book for Young People with Disabilities.
That Thing I Did (Wakefield Press), a YA comedy, was released in March 2022 to rave reviews, and Selfie (YA, Text Publishing) will be released 4th April 2023. When not writing, Allayne plays guitar and paints.

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5 stars
52 (43%)
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45 (37%)
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18 (15%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 32 reviews
Profile Image for Ryan Buckby.
664 reviews89 followers
April 8, 2018
Trigger Warning: Rape *just a side note this book does deal with rape and some other topics so please keep that in mind before reading this book*

I wasn't expecting this book to pack this big of a punch, it was so real and honest and i really enjoyed this book.

The plot and characters were all very well fleshed out and these characters to me seem some of the most real lot i have ever had the privilege of reading. Allayne finally did something that i want seen done in more YA novels is characters that feel real and are doing things REAL teenagers do, because a lot of YA novels have teenagers seem 'fake' or something i myself would have never done. But for me these teenagers were as close to the people i had experienced around my high school years then any other YA novel has done.

Every single character in this book had the perfect story arc and growth, from the main four characters all the way down to the secondary characters each one had that specific arc and Allayne got them there in under 300 pages. I related to Margo so much then i did any of the other characters because i myself come from an area that education is the strong point but i was one of those kids in high school to work my but off and make sure that my education came first. Margo however did come out of her shell a lot in this novel and that's thanks to the other characters who helped her along the way.

there needs to be more realistic YA novels like this and yes i know there are many more out there but this one was the one that has stood out above the rest.
Profile Image for Claire .
19 reviews7 followers
July 11, 2019
The Centre of My Everything is an Australian contemporary grounded in realism with complex characters, shocking moments and a feeling of hope. It was the first novel I’ve read by Allayne Webster and I absolutely loved it. I liked how she wrote about the issues of heavy drinking, rape, racism and growing up in a small Australian town.

I liked the main four characters. Each had a unique voice and felt like real people. My favourite was Margo, a straight A student who gets caught up in the problems of the other characters. I also liked Justin, a young man who had just back to Mildura after a stint in rehab and Tara, who just wants to be loved by her mum. While I also liked Corey (the other main character), I found his chapters to be uncomfortable at times because of the sexism coming from his mates. I also liked how they all grew over the course of the book and learnt from either their mistakes or an incident that happened to them.

I liked how the book dealt with the consequences of heavy drinking and the aftermath of a rape. Allayne Webster shows us how shocking it can be while also being respectful that it didn’t feel it was just there for shock value.

Over all I loved this book.
Profile Image for Tina.
573 reviews17 followers
April 1, 2018
Loved it! So raw and real. Multiple points of view give a full story and allow the reader to really understand motives and the reasons behind behaviour and actions. A cautionary tale about binge drinking without laying blame for appalling behaviour on the victim. So respectful of young people. We don't always make the smartest decisions when we're young, but bad decisions don't necessarily have to define the rest of our lives. This is a story of forgiveness, but also a study of how those bad decisions can ruin our lives and those of the people around us, if allowed to. I loved Margot. Her growth and maturity over the course of the story was real and believable. Justin was another favourite. His strength, like that of Tara and Corey, was inspirational. The adults were flawed mostly, but real, not caricatures as can happen in YA sometimes. Margot's mother, Jessie, was a real standout.
Overall an amazing read. I know it's barely April, but I'm calling this as one of the best books of the year.
Profile Image for Brooklyn Tayla.
978 reviews63 followers
July 19, 2018
That was easily one of the most thought provoking, powerful and emotive reads I've read in some time! Initially, I wasn't sure where it was headed, but within the first 50 pages, something happened that left me feeling SO SHOOK and honestly I could not believe what I'd read! I felt like I had to double back and read over it again, honestly it was so disturbing yet so raw and honestly I still feel so speechless! The characters were all so unique and memorable too, like, honestly, their emotions were all just written so naturally across the page, Allayne just brought all these characters to life so effectively, I feel like they will stay in my mind for a good while!
Profile Image for bre.
216 reviews28 followers
April 25, 2018
Trigger warnings; sexual assault, rape, racism, abuse, alcoholism

Wow. The Centre of My Everything was phenomenal. I did not expect to be sucked in to the book in the way that I was - I could not stop turning the pages. I'm truly struggling to put into words how much I loved this book.

In The Centre of My Everything, Allayne tackles some really difficult topics, and she does it in a really great way. This book is so raw, honest and real, that at times, it hurts to read it. But it is one of those important reads that should not be shied away from. As horrible as some of the themes of sexism and racism are, I can say that they are true to what I have observed in the world, as bad as it is that discrimination like that continues.

I tend to enjoy reading about unlikable characters/narrators. The Centre of My Everything is told from 4 perspectives, two boys, Corey and Justin, and two girls, Tara and Margo. At the beginning of the novel, some of these characters I definitely found to be unlikeable and I struggled to understand some of their motives. However, as the novel progressed, the reader learns some of the reasons that have made/make the characters the way they are and influence how they act. I thought that was a great part of the novel, unearthing some of the motives behind people who can do some unlikeable things.

Overall, I absolutely flew through The Centre of My Everything and I LOVED it. I cannot recommend it enough. Definitely give this one a go.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
Author 47 books729 followers
November 4, 2022
I tore through this in one continuous sitting - a gritty, layered, immersive four-hander spotlighting how misogyny, racism and a drink-to-obliteration culture can irreversibly change lives and alter the futures of people who haven’t even been born yet. #loveozya that is never ever pretty, but always real, urgent and completely engrossing
Profile Image for Gabby gcdeditorial.
278 reviews20 followers
March 30, 2018
This was such an incredible story that took me on a roller coaster of emotions. It covered so many dark and serious problems which were handled really well. The complex characters I found were realistic teenagers, and I loved seeing their development over the course of the story.

I cried a couple times...


I also read this during the #Superheroathon, and covered the topic of CAPTAIN AMERICA: a book that represents your country.
March 13, 2018
This is pretty full on. Very "Ocker"Australian with some in-your-face characters and big issues. I found that I ended up feeling a little cold towards the characters due to the sheer amount of tragedy in this story for everyone. I could see the end game coming, the twists and shock moments were predictable to me, but I did appreciate the way in which certain clues unfolded. This is one of those times where an epilogue set in the future would have been a relief so that I knew they got out ok after everything that happened.
Profile Image for Lynette Washington.
Author 9 books8 followers
March 6, 2018
This book will sit in my heart for a very long time. I adored it. Told from the point of view of 4 teenagers living in Mildura, it is raw, honest, heartbreaking and uncompromising, but ultimately hopeful and redemptive. It does not pull its punches as it examines alcohol and drug abuse, sexual assault, violence and parental neglect. I fell in love with each of the characters and recognised them as people very quickly. It was heartbreaking to watch them make terrible choices. But my heart soared when they made choices that reflected the empathy that they'd never been taught to have, but were able to conjure anyway.
Allayne Webster is a stunning writer. I enjoyed Paper Planes and A Cardboard Palace, but think that The Centre of My Everything is Allayne at the height of her storytelling talent and think this book is truly something special.
In my opinion it is suitable for older teenagers through to adults of all ages.
Profile Image for tasha.
108 reviews
March 14, 2018
This was a stunning example of Aussie YA. I'm not usually one for dramas or mysteries, but I really enjoyed this book. The only drawback would be perhaps the slightly rushed ending, and the number of characters (which I always struggle with tbh). Heavy on the Australian accent so if that isn't your thing, maybe skip it. A wonderful story based on small town life and coming of age.

cw: several descriptions of suicide, sexual assault, child sexual assault, domestic violence, general violence, heavy drinking, drug addiction (ice), drugs (weed), alcoholism, death, descriptions of a skeleton, non consensual explicit photos taken of a woman, child neglect, racism and racist slurs (indigenous), victim blaming (internalised mostly)/slut shaming, car crashes, saneism/mental illness stigma
Profile Image for Ash | Wild Heart Reads.
245 reviews141 followers
February 1, 2018
The Centre of My Everything is a raw and gripping tale following Justin, Corey, Tara and Margo who are inextricably linked by events that happened before they are born and the aftermaths of two alcohol fuelled nights.

At first I wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy this much but the story drew me in really quickly. It's funny, intense and equal parts moving and gut-wrenching. Webster captures the individual voices of our four leads really well, all four perspectives are told in first person and each is distinct.

Because so much of the literature I consume is, in general, American-centric, it always comes as a bit of a shock to pick up an Aussie novel with our distinct humour and colloquialisms but it's always wonderful to read. And I find that Australians, both in film and books, are often very talented at the stories that aren't sugar-coated and at writing flawed characters. Webster delivered at story that is brilliant at both. It wasn't always an easy read but it was a powerful one.

This is my first book by the author and I'm really glad I discovered it!

Trigger warning for rape/sexual assault:
One of the topics this deals with is rape. It is handled with care but if that is something triggering to you please be aware and look after yourself. It happens to Tara and in the past to a secondary character. Tara's assault does occur on the page so if you wish to skip it do not read Tara's POV on pages 111-112.

*I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*
Profile Image for Nisha-Anne.
Author 1 book18 followers
February 7, 2023
The structure of this is extraordinary, so many different stories and characters intersecting here and now and with the many burdens of the past. And the language distinguishing every voice is unnervingly different.

Honestly, the white-trashness of this community and their dialogue almost turned my stomach. It was like the bad old days of being the only person of colour stuck in a bogan country town where all there was to do was get high and get pregnant. It felt so authentic I wanted desperately to get out but also desperately to keep going with the story.

The plot was quite sordid but also life in a country town can get pretty fucken sordid so I recognised that. But it was fascinating and I felt all the feels, particularly appreciating the complexity of compassion and resentment. The nuances of the sexual assault storyline and its aftermath were so well done and particularly satisfying in terms of character development and response.

Allayne has said this is the book she's most proud of and I can totally see why. It's a pretty ambitious structure covering so so many themes, and she did a bloody marvellous job with both plot and characterisation, turning out such a rich narrative that's not necessarily easy to read but very rewarding. I read this in one session, yes.

Also I just adored Corey's twisted absurdism. What a Character.
Author 7 books6 followers
March 9, 2018
I am so glad that Allayne Webster wrote this book. If it was written by an author who I did not admire so much, I wouldn't have even picked it up- it is aimed at a far younger reader than me, and the subject matter did not interest me at all. But I admire Allayne so much as a writer that I bought it, opened it, started reading and could barley put it down. It is a wonderful book. The characters, who I initially did not relate to, and initially did not particularly like, developed beautifully. I cared about them. I grew to like them. I shed tears for them. I am a better person for having read The Centre of My Everything. Thank you Allayne.
Profile Image for Grant.
14 reviews24 followers
August 3, 2018
I would have given this 5 stars if not for the fact that it was rather slow in the beginning. That being said, this was such a beautiful story. Not only did it talk about topics that are real but it demonstrates it in a very realistic way. *Trigger warning* And because of this, I started to like her character. Although she was a racist in the beginning (which is why I disliked her) she redeems herself to the point where I felt for her.

This review is quite honestly wack but just read the book because I feel as if you will love it, as I did.
Profile Image for Sarah Cole.
Author 1 book22 followers
September 12, 2023
Set in a small Aussie town we follow four teens who are struggling to live. Amongst trauma, lies, self- hate and recklessness it's hard to work out which one is more sad - Justin, Corey, Tara or Margo. The answer is probably all four.

Webster has written another stand out text. Nailing the Aussie lingo, teenage hopelessness and family breakdowns.

The characters and their issues are real and that's what makes them so authentic. You'll find yourself hoping they can escape their past by making better choices for their future.

Some awful moments filled with pain helps you understand what it's like to be a teen trapped in a small town with almost no one to help you.

A must read. Five stars.
June 3, 2018
The Centre of My Everything is quintessential Australia. It is funny, crude, intense, moving and gut-wrenching. It isn’t always an easy read, but it is a book that will stay with you long after you read it and aren’t these still the best books. The books that make you think, question and wonder.
Profile Image for Shana Weerakoon.
24 reviews
April 10, 2019
I started this book expecting it to be a cheesy contemporary novel set against the racist backdrop of quintessential Australia. How glad I am to have been wrong. When things started heating up, I didn’t feel like anything was happening too fast, or that anything was too far fetched. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Profile Image for raven atienza.
12 reviews
February 6, 2023
tw: sexual assault, suicide mentions, heavy drug use, alcohol use

very fast-paced, a flurry of action through the pages. almost felt like I wasn't reading (aside from having to look up the meanings of aussie slang from time to time). incredibly intense read, so do take care, but always very real with so many hidden treasures of lessons I think everyone should learn.
Profile Image for Corrina.
101 reviews2 followers
June 16, 2018
Touches on so many topics relevant to youth today: rape, consent, toxic masculinity, binge drinking, race, mental health and self destructive behaviour. A realistic, sympathetic, cautionary tale. Not patronising or preachy, with flawed, relatable characters.
Profile Image for Trigger Warning Database.
12.2k reviews865 followers
July 9, 2021
Trigger & Content Warnings

Rape, on-page & recounted
Parent with alcoholism
Substance addiction recovery
Death of a parent by suicide, off-page
Physical injuries, including burns
Death of a parent
Car accident
Homelessness mentioned
Profile Image for Pam Saunders.
621 reviews9 followers
May 14, 2018
Tried a couple of times to read this but I couldn't connect with the characters or their actions. I might be too old!
Profile Image for Ruth Gilbert.
751 reviews3 followers
July 9, 2018
Wow! this is a really impressive, exciting, moving book. It puts you in the head of every teenage character and tackles some serious issues without being preachy. Fantastic!
97 reviews
July 16, 2018
Raw, confronting story with a rollercoaster of events and characters whose lives have been marked by the past and who are now trying to make sense of the present and move forward.
3 reviews
June 6, 2021
After reading this I want to read everything this author has written
Profile Image for Sonya Bates.
Author 9 books15 followers
December 27, 2018
A young adult book for older teens, this is a confronting but passionate read. The story is told from the perspective of four teens living in a small town in South Australia. As the blurb on the back says:
‘Justin’s back, and wants to put the past behind him.
Corey’s a footy hero and high-school dropout who can’t even find work picking fruit.
Tara wants to be loved. But if her mother doesn’t care, why would anyone else?
Margo wants out, and she has a plan to get there.’
Webster holds nothing back in showing life in this small community. The good, the bad and the ugly. It deals with real issues, hard issues that no one wants to talk about. It is raw and honest. Not all the characters are likable, but they are compelling, and I couldn’t stop reading. And by the end of the book I really cared about them. All of them.
A book that won’t easily be forgotten.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 32 reviews

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