Spoilers ahead

“There’s nothing more real than the things that can haunt you.”

This is not a regularly scheduled book review, this is an intervention. We really need to talk about Kirra and why her behaviour is not ok, at all.

Yellow by Megan Jacobson (Penguin, 2016) was shortlisted for the CBCA Book of The Year Older Readers 2017 this week. Yellow haunts me, but not for the right reasons. I was loving the story, the writing, Boogie the unreliable ghost, until I got to page 173.

What Kirra does to her mother amounts to torture. I put the book down and didn’t pick it up again for a month. Almost a deal breaker for me finishing. I kind of wonder how that part got past editors, publishers, anyone at all.

So here’s another rant about the problems I have with the treatment of mental illness in my reading matter. I’ve come across one reader who had issues with Kirra’s intervention in her mother’s addiction. Seriously, did no one else notice Kirra chained her mother to a bed with a bucket to piss in!?! Oh, and one beer an hour, because going cold turkey is hard.

Why am I surprised, yet again, at my difference of opinion with the CBCA judges. It happens every year, after all. At least Kirra provided gatorade and vitamins, so her mum doesn’t dehydrate or something. If anyone out there thinks this is how you fix addiction, it’s really not.

Years ago I had a boyfriend who was addicted to drugs. It was horrific and I took way longer than I should have to realise I couldn’t help him get better. The best thing I could do was dump his lying-addict-ass. Obviously, if the addict is your mother, dumping is not usually an option. My experience showed me in excruciating detail, just how much a person can’t kick a habit unless they want to.

After Kirra decides her mum has had enough torture and loosens the chains, instead of going straight to the police, Judy agrees she may as well stick with this whole sober thing and pour her stash down the drain. Perhaps Judy was experiencing Stockholm Syndrome after eating greasy food and watching movies with her (hungover) captor. Yes, Kirra really did drink a bottle of gin in front of her chained up mother.

Overcoming addiction often takes multiple attempts but Judy manages to avoid relapse and makes it to Kirra’s school awards night and months later the happy ending is ongoing. If only everyone could overcome addiction as easily.

Yes, Megan Jacobson’s writing is spectacular, but…

“I wonder how many little scraps of beauty we miss because we’re too busy walking around in the dark.”

title page magnificence

The book design by Marina Messiha is phenomenal, with fox_industry’s surreal, geometric eye adorning the cover and internally.

Yellow by Megan Jacobson