Laurinda by Alice Pung
Laurinda is an exclusive school for girls and it is dominated by three perfect specimens who go by the name of the Cabinet. Lucy Lam wins an inaugural academic scholarship. She is the daugter of immigrants anad lives in a working class suburb. Much to her surprise she becomes privy to the Cabinet’s secrets.
First Impressions: This is very readable and I regretted starting it late in the evening. Although it is a book for young adults there is much appeal to adults in the author’s mature writing style. It also means she is not patronising her target audience.
Highlights: I enjoyed the descriptions of Lucy’s suburb and home life. It’s like looking in a secret door to a part of Australia not everyone sees. The Laurinda mother ‘adopting’ Lucy as a sort of exotic Eliza Doolittle was a little uncomfortable at times but it never became too much; it no doubt shadows some common assumptions. Overall Laurinda is a really good story and it doesn’t feel like a YA novel, particularly as it isn’t marred by dramatic romance! This means the story stays true to the characters as I can’t imagine Lucy’s parents agreeing to her dating! The way the students interact with their teachers is unpleasant yet accurate.
If I was an editor: I would wonder at Lucy being offered a scholarship based only on an exam with no preliminary interview. I doubt the offer would come via a letter as surely there’d be a phone call for something so prestigious to the school? Also, Lucy not turning up to weekend sport would surely be taken more seriously as she is a scholarship student. However, I am sure most people would not be alarmed by these points and to elaborate on all of this would no doubt hinder the flow of the story!
Overall: The current generation’s Alibrandi.
Laurinda: 5 stars