I intended to review Girl Saves Boy at Kids’ Book Capers last year, but before I knew it 2010 was over and I’d run out of time.

I sat on this book for a while because I was savouring it. Every time I picked it up I found something different to like about it – the tone, the characters, the plot, the dialogue, the fact that the story hooked me and carried me along right to the end.

Written by teen author, Steph Bowe, Girl Saves Boy is the story of a girl who saves a boy from drowning and in doing so, dredges up a lot of past issues for both of them. So it’s not really about the ‘almost drowning’; it’s about the people involved and the lives they occupy underneath the surface.

I write YA myself, and recently when I felt like I was losing my way with a character, I picked up Steph’s Book and read a few pages. That’s because the voice in Girl Saves Boy is so authentically teen. It’s not surprising given the age of the author, but it’s also a book that has been written with maturity – that handles subtle nuances well – that keeps the reader turning the pages all the way through.

Girl Saves Boy is written from two points of view but the voices are distinctly different and easy to distinguish from each other.

Jewel is the girl in the book and this is how she starts her story.

My brother’s last word was: ‘Polo’

My grandfather’s last words were: ‘I feel better than ever. Stop fussing.’

My grandmother’s last words were: ‘Jewel, pop the kettle on, love.’

As far as I knew, my father was still alive, but the last words he uttered before he left my mother and me were spoken to me.

He said, ‘You should never have been born.’

Sacha, the boy Jewel saves from drowning is a lot less direct in how he tells his story.

The first time we met, Jewel Valentine saved my life.

There was a sudden and forceful pressure on my chest, and someone pinching my nose and pulling my chin down, and then a mouth against mine, filling my lungs with air.

Girl Saves Boy is a poignant and heartfelt novel about two characters that readers will care about and remember long after they have read the book. Author, Steph Bowe speaks with a unique voice that will resonate with both adult and young adult readers.

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Dee White

Dee White lives with her husband and two sons in a small rural country town which has more kangaroos than people. She has worked as an advertising copywriter and journalist and has had numerous career changes because until recently, writing wasn’t considered to be a proper job. Letters to Leonardo, her first novel with Walker Books Australia, was published in 2009 to great critical acclaim.