Allen & Unwin
The funny and shocking coming-of-age story of a wild teenager in a Canberra you never dreamed existed!
Goon of Fortune is one of those games that people cracked out at parties when everyone is already too maggot to realise what a pointless game it is. A bunch of people circle the Hills Hoist and you peg a bladder of cheap wine to the line. People take turns spinning the clothes line and whoever the wine sack lands in front of has to scull for five seconds.
Jez is seventeen and lives with her alcoholic single mum in in a government rental in Canberra’s outer-suburbs, with little money or future prospects. As well as suffering from terminal boredom, Jez has got epic First World Problems: where is her next pill coming from, what will her first tattoo be, and how will she ever lose her virginity?
Recently Jez has been having weird feelings about her best friend, emo kid Lukey – is she just bored or does she really want him? And if she makes a move on him (how to make a move on him?), will that endanger their friendship? So when effervescent hipster Melbournite Laura moves to town and starts macking on with Lukey, what is Jez to do but seek guidance from sexually experienced next-door-neighbour stripper, Casey? At the same time, Jez’s mum hooks up with a local bartender, placing a strain on their already fragile relationship.
Over the course of one blazing summer, Jez runs a gauntlet of new experiences and discovers the real meaning of home. Filled with humour, brilliant observations and raw revelations, Snake Bite is a contemporary Puberty Blues, the coming-of-age story of a wild teenager in a Canberra you never dreamed existed. It will sink its fangs into, inject you with its intoxicating venom, and never let you go
An engaging read once you have discovered the secret to decoding the teenagers’ language of text shortcuts, abbreviations and contemporary jargon. This is a fast moving book full of angst, despair, loneliness and the universal themes of all teenagers in the first world – those of seeking acceptance and love.
The reality is not a lot has changed in the last forty years or so for young people; teenagers are still ‘misunderstood’, still seeking answers to the meaning of life and still searching for acceptance; still trying to define themselves by their clothes, their music, their “style” and their choice of friends. Young women are still confusing sex with love. Not a lot has changed since I was a teenager.
The language of youth may have changed, the drug of choice may have changed (alcohol is an option where once was the only choice for most, now dope/weed and other chemical highs are more in favour and easy to acquire, apparently). It seems we have still not managed to teach our children how to communicate their feelings and deal with their emotions – young people are still trying to bury their angst and loneliness in the numbness of drug use. It is a sad indictment of modern life.
An engaging read, sometimes funny, mostly sad. The characters I found were a little stereotyped and for me Jez was the only empathetic voice. I did not understand how with the massive amount of drug and alcohol use and abuse in this narrative that apparently no adult had a single clue what was going on; for me this aspect of the narrative spoilt the credibility of the story, and the fact that all issues were neatly and simply wrapped up in the conclusion – Jez was enlightened to the “ways of the world” and appeared mature beyond her years, and “happy families” prevailed in the end, was a little too convenient.
However, a quick mostly enjoyable if not sometimes confronting read that every parent should read. This book can be used as great conversation starter for adults with teenagers. And I should add – I know that I was not the target audience for this book – I am several generations too old for and most likely was seeking more than what the book was offering as YA reading. 🙂 Young adults will enjoy.