Shirley Marr's Reviews > I'll Tell You Mine

I'll Tell You Mine by Pip Harry
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's review
Mar 01, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: aussie-ya

When I first took notice of this book, the name of the author struck me as familiar even though Pip Harry was a debut YA author.

Then I saw her profile pic. Years ago, there used to be a young girl err... I used to know (lets call her… Shirley Zarr) who used to religiously read a trashy gossip women's magazine called NW and the Pip Harry who used to write the entertainment pages was a Pip Harry that looked exactly like this Pip Harry.

Okay, so the trashbag from the paragraph above is actually me and I rejoiced because I personally believe in my head that I KNOW Pip Harry because I used to see her on a weekly basis. Then the other half of me grew nervous because I automatically thought that the novel was going to be a girly gossipy affair set in a boarding school and I didn't know if this was going to be a good thing.

I shouldn't have been scared because after all, you don't get published by UQP if you suck, even if you are a famous journalist. Pip Harry's writing style is assured, unpretentious and realistic. The initial paragraph shocked me (I'm not going to repeat it here, it bears censoring, message me if your curiosity is piqued), but it helped to drive the writing ahead, which I nodded along to (indicating I am pleased with what I saw).

Kate Elliot, a "Goth" is sent to a boarding school after committing an unspeakable act (her big secret) against her mother and there she is given plenty of time to think about her actions and how she is supposed to move on ahead.

My initial fear was that Kate being a Goth was perhaps going to make the book seem dated, after all didn't Goths have their day in the sun (intentional ironic pun intended) in the 90s? But the author manages to provide enough belief in the text as it being a life-choice of Kate's because of her identification with the dress sense and music. I guess I still even see the odd occasional "punk" even, imbedded in the sea of hipsters & carpris.

Which brings me to Kate herself. Unfortunately I couldn't connect with her at all as a person. I found myself liking all the secondary characters around her, like awesome bad-rep girl Maddy; shy, Voice Within Lou and even Kate's formidable Politician mother - because Kate described them so vividly, but I felt we never got to know who she was. She does not captivate me as a standalone character because she is almost personality-free. Kate to me served as more of a vessel in order to tell the story: describing what is happening, what she is doing, lots (too many?) flashbacks of her life. This novel could easily have been told in a a third-person point of view as a majority of the time it is observational narrative.

If we were to take away the fact that Kate was a Goth, would the character remain intact? Yes. She could be any insecure, angry young girl. As opposed to a person she is almost a metaphor - a symbol of a girl that is hidden underneath her heavy makeup and Goth clothing just waiting to break out and become herself. If this was the author's intent, I get it, but it unfortunately makes Kate too diffused. I wanted to see her more passionate about who she was and what she did. All I got from the novel was that "she became a Goth cos black clothes reflected how she felt on the inside". Okay, then? Even the graphic novel she was working on - she just tells us what it's about and what it looks like - I wanted to feel what drove her to draw, what made art tick for her.

I am sure Pip Harry is going to do ahead and write more novels and in her next effort - I want to see her write a MC that stands as a character in their own right. If this book was told by Maddy and had the voice, style and easy swagger of Maddy we saw in the novel, it would have been a winner. This would be growth for her as a writer I would like to see.

Overall, secondary characterisation and an unpretentious fresh style are Pip Harry's strengths. Some of the writing is good, some of it debut-author-patchy, but just when I think it is boring along comes something so thoughtful and beautiful it makes me reconsider like this:

"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. Here is where her family, her friends are."

The last 1/4 of the book was excellent, better in pace and really pushed it home for Pip Harry, ending the book on an emotional sweet note for me.

So overall, I can see, and like, the budding talent. Pip - it is nice to see you again*

* I don't actually have a connection to Pip Harry. I am just talking like a stalker.

This review also appears on my blog Books on Marrs


Meanwhile, earlier on the ranch...

Does the plot sound a little generic? But heck, I used to be a goth in highschool so onto my radar it goes! (plus it's endorsed by Melina Marchetta)
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Reading Progress

March 1, 2012 – Shelved
March 1, 2012 – Shelved as: aussie-ya
April 22, 2012 – Started Reading
April 27, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-16 of 16) (16 new)

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Amanda I thought you'd left me a message on my review but now it's gone! I suppose the idea of boarding school is nothing new in YA but I found this book really good and the characters were really interesting and strong plus I kept expecting typical ya/boarding school things to happen but they didn't.

Shirley Marr Have you reviewed it yet Mandee? I can't wait to see what you have to say.

Amanda Yesm but I've been asked to hold on posting it until April 2

Shirley Marr I'm good at being patient so I am just going to sit here


Amanda What a good girl! *rewards Shirley with chocolate*

Shirley Marr Oooooo! *scoffs chocolate down*

message 7: by Maggie (new) - added it

Maggie Pictures of HS Goth Shirley! :)

Shirley Marr But it will destroy my current emo credentials Maggie! :P

Amanda *gives Shirley another treat* My review is UP!

Reynje I might have fist pumped at the NW shout out :)

Great review.. still kinda curious about this one.

message 11: by Shirley (last edited Apr 27, 2012 11:38PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Shirley Marr You buy every edition don't you???

It's all yours - what can you give me? (view spoiler)

message 12: by Reynje (last edited Apr 27, 2012 11:58PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Reynje Will you accept this signed copy of Who magazine (it's no NW, I know) featuring Scandal'us on the cover?


Just kidding. You can't have that - it's framed on my wall.

Hmm.. do you want my Holier Than Thou after I've read it? Should be this week sometime..

Shirley Marr OMG. I'm going to come over and just rip that off your wall.

Scandal'us was totes Tamara's peak before she oo-ah lost her bra/left it in Kyle Sandiland's car (eww)

Yes please. I would love that :-)

(view spoiler)

I feel you will like I'll Tell You Mine more than me, I might have been unduly harsh, I'm not sure...

Amanda I promise Holier Than Thou is not about religion ;) It's good apart from the fact that I have a bazillion questions thanks to the ending!

Shirley Marr Hallelujah Mandee! (Okay, that is a terrible joke). I can't wait to read your review!

Reynje LOL Shirley :) Okay - it's heading your way soon!

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