Book Review: Pink by Lili Wilkinson

“The pink jumper was glowing in my grey bedroom like a tiny bit of Dorothy’s Oz in boring black-and-white Kansas. Pink was for girls”’ – Lili Wilkinson, Pink

One of the things I promised myself I would do more of this year is review the books that I read for myself, not just what I’m sent to review. Yesterday I read Pink by Lili Wilkinson and for the first time in a long while, I felt that delightful compulsion to finish a book in one sitting! I devoured Pink – I absolutely loved it! It has been popping up in my life a lot recently and so I took it as a sign that I needed to get my butt into gear and buy a copy! I am so happy I did!

Let me start off by saying how much I love the cover and title. Pink is my favourite colour and so I was instantly drawn to the book. As well as being a delightful colour, it is also a very loaded word with many different meanings and connotations, many of which feature in the book!

When Ava buys a pink cashmere jumper, she sees it as an opportunity to try out a new life. In an attempt to rebel against her anti-establishment parents and feminist girlfriend, Ava seeks out a more mainstream life, one where she thinks being straight – and pink – will give her the answers she seeks. On her first day at the new school, Ava catches the eye of Alexis – pretty, popular and oh so pink! Ava neglects to mention her sexuality and soon Alexis is trying to set her up with Ethan, the dreamiest boy at school. Ava plays along, convincing herself it is what she wants while finding herself falling down a rabbit hole. Ava tries so hard to fit in with her new popular ‘pastel’ friends and the quirky stage crew members that she doesn’t realise how fragile it all is until it is all too late.

What makes this book so appealing is the ease that Wilkinson writes about teens and their sexuality. Ava isn’t the token gay person (which tends to happen in YA fiction); she is surrounded by a diverse array of characters whom you can tell Wilkinson has really put a lot of time into. They have depth and individuality; although in saying that they are so classically teen, all angsty and rebellious and hilarious! Wilkinson’s dialogue is fantastically witty and fun; I found myself grinning from ear to ear most of the time! What makes this book most relatable is the way she writes conflict and it is something I think everyone can relate to in some way or another. Ava is never in control of her life; in fact, many of the characters aren’t. The reader sees the popular girl struggling to hide her inner nerd; the seemingly untouchable girlfriend who is just as vulnerable and scared of getting hurt as the next person; then there is Ava, influenced and guided by her parents and partner, seemingly convinced that her life should be going in a certain direction. This kind of conflict – the ‘what if’s of life – is universal; Ava tries to take control of her life in quite an underhanded and deceitful way, however, I completely understood where she was coming from. She wasn’t trying to hurt anyone… she was just trying to work out who she is and where she’s going. I know I can relate to that!

Overall, Pink is brilliant and is a much-needed addition to all TBR piles… go on, you know you want to!!

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