Thursday, May 23, 2019

"Amelia Westlake Was Never Here"

Erin Gough is a Sydney-based writer whose first young adult novel, The Flywheel, won Hardie Grant Egmont’s Ampersand Prize. The Flywheel was published in the US as Get it Together, Delilah! and was shortlisted for the CBCA’s Book of the Year for Older Readers and the Centre for Youth Literature’s Gold Inky. It was also named a White Raven International Youth Library title.

Gough applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Amelia Westlake Was Never Here, and reported the following:
From page 69:
Edie flicks her ponytail. "That's wishful thinking, if you ask me. She'll find someone to play with, or someone will find her. There's no reason to assume she won't play in the doubles."

"So what do we do?"

I must sound overly panicked because Edie puts down her racket and comes over. She presses her forehead gently against mine, which is one of our pregame rituals. I drink in the smell of her floral perfume. "Train hard," she says. "Learn what we can about her. Find out about her strengths, her weaknesses," she murmurs, her lips very close to my lips.

I sigh. "You always know exactly what to say to calm me down."
This excerpt is largely representative of the rest of Amelia Westlake. Tennis, sneaky plotting and sexual tension between two girls all feature, which are all key elements of the narrative. Page 69 is a "Harriet" chapter - the book's chapters alternate between the perspectives of Harriet and Will - so it is flavoured by Harriet's particular formality, naivety and general lack of self awareness. All that is missing is the perspective of Will, who is much more knowing, cynical and self-possessed. Will is the 'glass-half-empty' to Harriet's 'glass-half-full'.
Visit Erin Gough's website.

--Marshal Zeringue