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Amelia Westlake

2019 - Winner

Winner

Judges' comments

Publishers have touted this as a funny, queer romantic comedy about two school girls who can’t stand each other. The two girls ultimately join forces in a grand feminist plan to expose harassment and inequality at their elite private school. Erin Gough has indeed created a fiercely funny narrative that sits well in the contemporary young adult niche, raising issues of feminist intersectionality, queerness and racism, shedding timely commentary on the #MeToo movement. While the novel explores gender politics and the mechanics of power, at its heart it works well as an uplifting romance novel that is delightful to read.

One of the many strengths of this novel is the dialogue which is taut, sassy and authentic. Gough creates three-dimensional characters who are flawed, yet full of heart. Amelia Westlake goes further, encouraging dialogue and camaraderie, reiterating the importance of creating inclusive, affirming environments. While the setting is an elite Australian private school, this should serve a global readership well exploring universal issues with flair, humour and intelligence.

Ultimately, much-applauded author Erin Gough has once again created a fresh, intelligent and edgy narrative that resonates well with her readers. Erin Gough continues to be an important voice in Australian YA fiction. This is a smart and very readable rom-com… and so much more!