And my award for the most awesome male character in YA goes to… Bo Mitchell!!
Seriously. From the very first sentence of ‘White Night’ by Ellie Marney, Bo’s voice captured me. He drives this book. If you’re looking for positive, realistic male role models, look no further.
I loved ‘White Night’. I read a sneak-peak online and then had to wait – yes – WAIT – until it became available from my library. Excruciating.
There are a lot of things to like in ‘White Night’, but if I had to pick three, this’d be them:
- Character arcs of awesome
- Level-headed enviro representation
- General air of stereotype-smashing.
Character arcs that are the full rainbow
The character arc of Bo is superb. From wanting to be the image of his father, Bo grows the strength to follow what he loves and choose his own future. It’s footy vs food, dad vs self, peer-group vs gut-instinct. I am serious, I challenge you – read this book and tell me Bo isn’t a fabulous character.
I think some of it’s got to be Marney’s own teenage boys, she must bring that authenticity into her writing.
The issue of Eden
I was nervous and excited to read ‘White Night’ because of the enviro community depiction. I’m a bit of a greenie. (More than a bit, actually!) As a new grad on a minesite years ago – a girl AND a greenie – eek – when they’d ask if I was the greenie, I’d grin proudly and say YES.
So I’m sensitive about poorly thought-out enviro stereotypes. And I wanted to see if they raised their ugly head here, in a story that circles around a radical environmental community.
The issues Marney raises with the Eden community lie not in their environmental ideals but in the way their leader warps their thinking and freedoms. In fact, I found ‘White Night’ to be quite pro-enviro, like the way it deals with Eden girl Rory’s horror at all the plastic in the supermarket. At how they’re going to take their purchases away in yet another plastic bag that will be around for ever and ever because of that One Short Shopping Trip. She looks at our world with fresh eyes, and that make us look at it anew as well.
Again, it’s authentic. Marney draws on her own experiences to make Rory’s character so real. She doesn’t judge with her writing. People are what they are.
Then I figure it out. She’s altered her outfit so she’s dressed more like the other girls at school. She’s trying to blend in. But if I know anything about high school, it’s that trying too hard at anything is a big No.
This book is chock-full of diverse characters. They all seem to fit the stereotypes at the start, but as the book goes on (like life) you find the real them underneath. From Bo, who’d rather be a chef than a footy star, to Shandy, who isn’t the quintessential nasty girl and displays striking honesty and bravery when needed.
An all-round great book, combining a building sense of dread with characters that stick with you, and a whole ute-load of heart. Big thumbs up from me.
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