My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Frankie Vega is hard work for those around her. Her boyfriend Mark broke up with her because she’s so angry all the time. Her Aunt Vinnie is perpetually frustrated by Frankie’s violent outbursts and seeming inability to obey rules of any kind. And Frankie herself struggles to understand why she continues to make risky and dangerous choices.
Frankie feels like an alien in her own life, and then Xavier shows up. A kid with the same eyes and nose as her mother. A kid who says he knows her mother because they share her. A kid whom Frankie likes instantly. Then as suddenly as he appeared, Xavier is gone. The only clues to his whereabouts: his amazing street art and a partner in house-breaking, Nate. Nate with the clear blue eyes and the casual wit. Nate, who is trouble with a capital T. Frankie makes up her mind to find Xavier and ends up finding herself.
This book is gritty. Set in the streets and homes of Collingwood, it’s as real as it gets. Plozza doesn’t pull any punches about writing down and dirty, but her affection for the area shines through. And the dialogue. The conversations in this novel are superb. Nothing particularly flowery, thank goodness, just simple, honest words spoken by entirely believable characters.
He shrugs at me like he doesn’t care either way.
And yes, part of me is tempted. But the rest of me knows that when Nate says ‘talk’ he doesn’t mean about Xavier. Hell, he doesn’t even mean ‘talk’.
“I thought you said you didn’t live here.” I look at the creepy house and remind myself that this boy spent the afternoon in the Collkingwood cop shop. That I met him robbing a house.
Walk away, Frankie.
There’s a flash of something dark in his look before he clutches his heart and laughs. Nice-guy act over. “Ouch. You don’t like being hit on, do you?”
“I love it. It makes me ecstatic.”
“Then you should know your ‘ecstatic’ face and your ‘bitchy’ face are exactly the same.”
I think about kicking him in the balls. Apparently my ‘I’m going to kick you’ face is different enough from my ‘ecstatic’ face because he takes a quick step backwards.
“You’ve been a big help, ” I say. “And when I say ‘help’ I mean ‘arsehole’. Why won’t you tell me about my brother?”
“Whatever.” With a salute Nate saunters off toward the house. “Go home and quite wandering down dark streets – all kinds of people about.”
“You ought to know,” I call. But it’s too late; he’s gone, sucked into the darkness.
I love this kind of writing. I can’t wait to see what Shivaun Plozzacomes up with next.
For ages 14 and up.