Maree Kimberley's Reviews > Living Next To Lulah

Living Next To Lulah by Nette Hilton
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bookshelves: aww2013, young-adult-fiction

I've previously read Hilton's novel The Innocents (written in 2010) and loved it. It's a fantastic book - one of the best young adult novels I've read - so I was looking forward to Living Next to Lulah.

Living Next to Lulah was published in 2006, four years before The Innocents, and you can see in LIving Next to Lulah the seeds of Hilton's strengths in writing, particularly her ability to set up tension, that uncomfortable feeling that something is not quite right. 'Lulah' is not quite as successful though, so if you want to read both books (and both are definitely worth reading) perhaps start with Lulah first.

'Lulah' is still a good, fast-paced read. The characterisation and plot are good, but not brilliant. The main character, Ari, is a likeable and interesting teenage girl struggling with many issues common to teens: growing apart from her best friend, a bit of jealousy, not maturing as fast as she'd like; insecurity about her looks and her boyfriend. But the underlying issue tying the book together revolves around the death of a younger child, 'Fungus' whose funeral starts off the novel. Ari feels guility about the Fungus' death, not only because she didn't like him, but because she has inherited her grandmother's gift for sensing ghosts, and Fungus' ghost won't leave her alone.

Most readers will work out what is going on in the novel long before Ari, the protaganist, does, and I found her ignorance and innocence a little stretched. This is my main criticism of the book, as it made it feel a little contrived for me. But others may disagree with this viewpoint, and despite this criticism I still enjoyed the book overall.

The most interesting thing for me, as a writer/reader, however, was seeing how Hilton's writing matured and gained in strength between the two novels. Her ability to set up tension, and a growing sense of unease, has a clear trajectory from the earlier book to the later.

'Lulah' deals well with a lot of the angst and worries shared by many teen girls, so by all means add 'Lulah' to your reading list. But make sure you read The Innocents as well.

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Reading Progress

January 17, 2013 – Started Reading
January 17, 2013 – Shelved
January 18, 2013 – Finished Reading
October 25, 2013 – Shelved as: aww2013
April 8, 2019 – Shelved as: young-adult-fiction

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