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Take Three Girls

by Cath Crowley, Simmone Howell

February 7, 2019.Beth.1 Like.0 Comments
This is a complicated story, and in some ways difficult to read. The voices of the three authors mesh seamlessly together creating a complete story, with interesting, well written characters.

This review contains spoilers

Take Three Girls is a young adult book co-written by Australian authors, Cath Crowley, Simmone Howell and Fiona Wood. The story follows three girls in year ten at St Hilda’s Grammar School in Sydney. Ady is the fashionable and creative popular girl with dark family secrets and a boyfriend she’s not in love with, Clem is the jock-turned-nothing trying to figure out life after swimming and a boyfriend she is definitely in love with, and Kate is the girl from the country deciding between music or academics. The three are brought together by the length of their thumbs in Wellness class, and from there an unlikely friendship grows. Amongst all this is the anonymous gossip site PSST that posts cruel and nasty content about the girls at St Hilda’s. The book looks at themes of feminism, social justice, cyberbullying, sex and friendship, creating a complex and rich contemporary story.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a great example of Australian Young Adult Literature, and parts are extremely relatable to anyone who attended an Australian school. The descriptions of plaid skirts and a female wellness class led by a male teacher gave me flashbacks to high school and sent a shiver up my spine and into my very soul. It also reminded me a lot of some of Melina Marchetta and Jaclyn Moriarty’s books from the early 2000’s, although Take Three Girls is darker and tackles different issues.

While there are romantic sub plots for each of the girls, including an lgbt one, friendship is the main theme of the book. Ady says at one point, “Clem and Kate feel more like friends than my friends do because there’s honesty here, and I’m not being micro-moment-judged.” True friendship is examined from each of the girl’s perspectives, giving a well-rounded definition as well as adding a valuable insight for younger readers. People are different and how they perceive friendship and what they need from friendships is different. There is no cookie cutter answer.

The marked differences between the characters personalities emphasises this, especially in the character of Clem. While Ady and Kate are both pleasant girls, Clem is prickly and antagonistic, lashing out when stressed or angry and often becoming unlikable due to her treatment of other characters in the book, especially her twin Iris who she treats terribly. What she needs in a friend is entirely different to what the other girls need, but the book doesn’t deem her unworthy of this effort.

The three authors each wrote one of the characters. In some ways this was great as the three girls were so different and complex, but it was also a little unsatisfying as I could have read a whole book on each of them. It took longer to get to know them because there was so many layers to their characters, which made it a little hard to get into the story especially since the three main characters don’t really like each other, or even become friends until nearly half way through. They don’t spend much time with each other so the story takes a while to tie itself together. The book also feels very full, with the three individual stories, plus their story together, plus the story regarding the gossip site.

As a result the end feels rushed, with the resolution of the gossip site being reduced to a feel good moment that is a little confusing in its execution. The girls resolve the problem themselves, and are encouraged to do so, instead of reporting it to a teacher or adult in charge. Their efforts pan out, but in a real world situation handling something on your own could have devastating consequences especially considering the shocking cruelty of what was written on the site. The “villain” of the book, Iris, who had been feeding information to someone at the boy’s school, appeared out of nowhere with no clues that it was her throughout the book. Her story was a side note to Kate and Clem’s, a studious, worried girl with no friends apart from Kate and whose whole focus was the scholarship exams. She was discovered accidentally, and shown to be pitied and then dismissed by the three main characters. 

I found this unsatisfying, since the theme of acceptance and friendship was so evident throughout the book and especially contrasted with Clem’s own acceptance despite her behaviour. Iris got no resolution, no slow dance with her love interest at the formal and early morning milkshakes and jaffles on the beach. A single sentence said how she had gone to stay with her parents for the holidays while the other girls plan visits to each other. The reader even knows that the boys will be punished as the girls leave their identities with the teachers. Iris was left alone in her misery with no friend to comfort her, no support in place. Her story was sad and lonely and a dark spot in an otherwise great book.

This is a complicated story, and in some ways difficult to read. The voices of the three authors mesh seamlessly together creating a complete story, with interesting, well written characters. It covers themes of friendship and growing up, diving into issues of cyber bullying, sex, love, addiction and lying. The story has a mostly satisfying conclusion and the girls learn many of the lessons put to them. I would recommend this for older teens due to language and sexual scenes.

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