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2021 - Shortlisted
This riveting memoir tells of the author’s experiences as a teenager in South-East Asia, after she parts ways with her travelling companion and becomes stranded in Vietnam. As the narrator negotiates cultural differences, loneliness, binge drinking, abandonment, and a string of disappointing and sometimes dangerous lovers, she also wrestles with low self-esteem and her seemingly inexhaustible capacity for self-harm.
The narrative skilfully braids two time frames: one set during the solo adventure, the other during the events that led up to the narrator’s decision to ditch her self-absorbed best friend and travel on her own. Clements’ prose style is a breathtaking blend of lyricism and brevity, metaphorical exuberance and emotional restraint. That the author was only 27 at the time of publication is a testament to her bodacious talent and her future as an elegant and accomplished writer.