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What: Amelia Westlake by Erin Gough

Who: Hardie Grant Egmont

When: April 2nd 2018

How: A copy of this novel was provided by Hardie Grant Publishing for review.

Two very different girls, and one giant hoax that could change – or ruin – everything.

Harriet Price has the perfect life: she’s a prefect at Rosemead Grammar, she lives in a mansion, and her gorgeous girlfriend is a future prime minister. So when she risks it all by creating a hoax to expose the school’s many problems – with help from notorious bad-girl Will Everheart, no less – Harriet tells herself it’s because she’s seeking justice. And definitely not because she finds Will oddly fascinating.

But as Will and Harriet’s campaign heats up, it gets harder for them to remain sworn enemies – and to avoid being caught. As tensions burn throughout the school, how far will they go to keep their mission – and their feelings for each other – a secret?

Amelia Westlake is set in a very different Australia to what I’ve been living in my whole life, so it was one of the less relatable Aussie YA books I’ve read. But sometimes it’s interesting to see into the lives of the upper crust, I guess. Though I will say that whenever the girls bemoaned their school – even though it was a piece of shit in some ways – I was a little annoyed. I mean, it’s a damn privilege to go to a school with so many amenities and opportunities and with such an overall high-achieving cohort. This wasn’t a huge part of the book, but I did irk me that this privilege was completely overlooked on behalf of both the girls.

Speaking of privilege, this book is kind of a basic introduction to being an okay feminist. I won’t say ‘good’ or ‘great’ feminist because there were some things that were lacking here, some things that were overlooked completely, and other things that weren’t handled really well. But overall I did like the messages it gave to potential readers who are still learning the basics. Amelia Westlake touches on racism, intersectionality, and queerness.

This book was definitely a character driven one as the overarching plot is about a made-up girl called Amelia Westlake. Our two protagonists, Will and Harriet, team up together and create Amelia to point out the flaws in their school such as favouritism, and the sexist (and paedophilic, in my opinion, since these girls are underage) actions and words of a “beloved” sports coach/teacher. Amelia turns out to be bigger than either girl expected – in fact Amelia ends up belonging to nearly all of the girls in Will and Harriet’s grade, not just the two who created her. People use Amelia to say the things they’ve been too afraid to say before, and I liked the courage that a made-up girl could give real girls.

Even though I didn’t fall head over heels in love with either of Amelia Westlake’s protagonists, I still enjoyed reading about them. Both of the girls were growing, and I liked that a lot about this book. Teens aren’t always fully formed human beings because they are always learning – everyone is always learning. So even though there were things that both girls said and did that didn’t really sit right with me, I reminded myself that they were teens, that they were learning, and that they – above all – were trying. They were both trying their hardest and their best, and they were both trying to be better people. So that was one of my favourite aspects of Amelia Westlake.

The romance in this book was pretty adorable on both ends because it took each girl by surprise. If I had to call this romance by trope it would be enemies to friends to lovers, which combines both of my favourite romance tropes in one. I was definitely rooting for Will and Harriet because I think they could learn from one another and their differences.

Overall, I certainly enjoyed Amelia Westlake. From feminist basics, to made-up girls making a difference, to being a better person, to finding your bravery, I think Amelia Westlake is a great addition to our growing repertoire of Aussie queer YA books.

© 2018, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.

trigger warning

use of ableist language, racism, reference to pet death, animal cruelty joke, potentially harmful statement regarding the gender binary (a joke is made about the school’s lack of women writers in the English curriculum, and it goes along the lines of “Jane? That’s a funny name for a guy”), phobia of flying/anxiety, panic attack, emotional abuse from romantic partner, absent parents, sexist/paedophilic themes, classism, homophobia/misia, romantic cheating

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Posted on: April 3, 2018 • By: Chiara

4 Responses to Review: Amelia Westlake by Erin Gough

  1. Verushka says:

    It’s an interesting premise, I must admit. I like that this book conveyed that these girls were teens, and they were evolving and there was more to them than the book can show in a way./

    • Chiara says:

      It was very interesting! I’ve certainly never read a book quite like it. And I did enjoy that the characters were learning over the arc of the book!

  2. Ooh I’m glad this one didn’t disappoint (well at least not too much) haha since I both know we’re always on the look out for good Aussie YA. ? I do want to read it and I feel like I don’t manage to find nearly as much f/f books as I’d like! So this one is definitely on the wishlist. (Although pity it wasn’t a totally satisfying feminism discussion…)

    • Chiara says:

      It didn’t disappoint! And yes, i do like finding Aussie YA I really enjoy :D I hope you like this one if you pick it up, Cait! It was a pity about the feminism but maybe that was the author’s intent? Not sure…

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