#NaNoWriMo: X is for…The Guy, the Girl, the Artist and His Ex by Gabrielle Williams

“It had been one of those ‘seems like a good idea at the time’ situations…”

Gabrielle Williams, The Guy, the Girl, the Artist and his Ex

So when I came up with my NaNoWriMo challenge, I didn’t think it through as well as I thought I did. My intention to write a review per letter of the alphabet was a good one – or so I thought – until I came to the last few letters and discovered that I haven’t read books starting with them. So, please forgive my inventiveness; I have chosen to review The Guy, The Girl, the Artist and his EX by Gabrielle Williams (see what I did there)!

I love books that think outside the usual YA box. Gabrielle Williams has written a story that still involves the usual tropes but what I really, really liked about this book is the way Williams has woven an Hispanic legend and Australia’s greatest unsolved art heist into one entertaining story! The tale revolves around four characters; the guy who is failing school, forges his grades and excels at hacky sack; the girl whose mother is tormented by old legends and the death of her little brother; the artist with a daring plan involving a Picasso painting and the Ex that brings them all together on one fateful night.

In 1986 a group who called themselves the Australian Cultural Terrorists stole Picasso’s Weeping Woman from the National Gallery of Victoria. The highly scorned piece – that could have been pained by pre-schoolers (apparently) – was the galleries’ most expensive acquisition at the time. They held the piece ransom and demanded that the Victorian government increase arts funding by 10 percent and introduce a new art prize – The Picasso Ransom. They threatened to burn the cubist masterpiece but thankfully, a tip-off led to the painting being found before that could happen! Williams has linked the event beautifully with the legend of La Llorna – translated as the Weeping Woman – a tale of a doomed mother who drowned her children and spends eternity searching for them in rivers and lakes.

Everything about this book is enjoyable. The writing is simple and clear, the characters – Guy, Rafi, Luke and Penny – are all relatable to the reader and the issues William’s deals with are realistic and. As teens keep pushing for more realistic YA, I feel like this is one of the books they should be reading. Williams deals with complicated families, relationships, mental illness and how our actions have consequences we can’t always foresee. The blend of comedy and tragedy is spot on; this tale of art, love and


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