Flannery's Reviews > A Straight Line to My Heart

A Straight Line to My Heart by Bill Condon
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's review
Aug 07, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: aussie-ya-is-the-cats-meow, i-want-to-go-to-there, read-in-2012, read-on-tour, young-adult-teen
Recommended to Flannery by: Arlene
Recommended for: Fans of Cath Crowley and Fiona Wood

I want to write a review of this book, truly I do, but all I keep doing is singing "Groovy Kind of Love" by Phil Collins and thinking about Aussie contemporary YA lit. "When I'm feeling blue, all I have to do, is take a look aaaaat you, then I'm not sooo blue." That's where I stop singing, lest this turn into some sort of awkwardly sexual booklove situation. It is true that Aussie YA books and I have a groovy kind of love, though. Raw Blue, The Piper's Son, A Little Wanting Song, Six Impossible Things, Holier Than Thou; these books all just knocked it out of the park for me, and my favorite thing about them is that they aren't really about anything but living. While slice-of-life stories are common for every age group, young adult books can very quickly become angst-ridden "no one can understand me, my pain is so singular" types of stories, which really alienates me as a reader. Somehow many Australian authors seem to be successful at conveying the depressing bits of life, all the while with the undertones of the familial and friendship connections as an anchor that keep the narrative from getting to negative.

In A Straight Line to My Heart, Tiff(any) is trying to enjoy her summer after finishing high school. She has an internship lined up at her local newspaper and a new crush on a footballer from a nearby town, but the story doesn't dwell on one plotline throughout. Instead, it basically just follows Tiff through about a week of her summer. The cast of characters is fairly controlled and there are not a lot of random mentions, which allowed me to really get the feel of several of the central players--Tiff, her family (who are actually more a surrogate brother/uncle, Bull, and grandfather, Reggie), Bull's girlfriend Zoe, her supervisor at the newspaper, and Tiff's new love interest, Davey. In addition, the setting is contained to only around three or four locations. While I do appreciate lots of action and plot twists in most genres, contemporary fiction is the place where I'll give up basically everything for the characters and a connection. I loved Tiff's voice from the initial library scene opening where she is annoyed to be rudely interrupted while she is lost on the moors with Heathcliff, and I couldn't help but laugh at the note that Davey gave her later in the book:

I like you but you mightn't feel the same way about me, and I wouldn't blame you. To save us both from any awkward moments I've figured out an easy way to do this. Nod if you're even slightly interested in getting to know me. Write a ten page explanation if you're not.

"Write a ten page explanation if you're not?" That is so classic, and I really hope I remember to use it on someone in the future. Because I loved Tiff so much, it was lovely to see everyone else through her eyes. She thought about people's motivations for their actions--what did Bull's girlfriend want to hang out with her for? Why was Reggie trying to avoid going to the doctor? I wish I could contemplate and remind myself that there are usually reasons for everyone's bad attitudes or, alternatively, for their acts of kindness. Quite surprisingly, this book did not make me cry, but I believe that Tiff is so lucky to have the family relationship she has (and likewise, her family is lucky to have her), and I think she makes a few more valuable connections with people during her summer. Tiff would be a very hard person to dislike, but I could totally see her just fading into the background. I'm so happy that Condon picked her out of the crowd and decided to tell her story.

The list of people who might love this book is pretty long. I'd recommend it for fans of the books I mentioned earlier, though I think the style most resembled a mixture of Cath Crowley and Fiona Wood. Bill Condon did a fabulous job of making me totally forget that he was a male writer with a female narrator, so I'd add anyone who is looking for a successful example of writing a main character, in first person, of the opposite sex. Also, this book is for anyone who is a fan of slice-of-life stories full of heart and a bit of humor.

4.5/5 stars.

Thanks to Arlene from WinterHaven Books for lending me her copy. You're a star.

Read this review and many others at The Readventurer.
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Arlene Glad you enjoyed it Flann. I've done that with a few book too. :)

message 2: by Lis (new)

Lis This sounds incredible! I'm having a serious case of "So many aussie's so little time" but I'm definitely bumping this one to the top of my to-read list! Thanks for a fantastic review :)

Flannery There are just so many Aussie books to read. I've never read one that I liked less than 3 stars. (though I haven't read too many non-contemporary ones...)

Oh, just an FYI to anyone who reads the comments. This book is available on Amazon US. Crazy, huh? Also, from Fishpond for $8.88 w free shipping as of 8/30.

message 4: by Elle (new)

Elle In my prolonged absence, I'd forgotten how awesome your reviews are Flan.
And there are SO MANY NEW ONES TO READ! :D

Kristy i know what song is going to be stuck in my head the remainder of the day :D

Great review, I didn't dig this one quite as much as you, but I adore Reggie!!!!

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