Author: Anna Daniels
Girl In Between is most definitely an Australian novel, written by Rockhampton raised comedian and media presenter Anna Daniels.
Lucy Crighton is in her early thirties, and her childhood bedroom. She’s floating through life trying to find a direction, trying to find her calling. She has lived in many places across the country, and the globe, but after a breakup she finds herself back at home with her folks.
I liked the story, the premise is good and I liked the characters but I often felt like it was a bit too stereotypical and a little over the top. I haven’t visited Rockhampton so I can’t compare the picture Daniels paints of the town to the actual town but it came across to me as an exaggeration of the laid back small coastal town vibe and reputation some places have. I feel like I’m being really rough here but I can’t quite find the right words for what I want to say. I don’t think I was aware that Anna Daniels is a comedian before I started the book, but it didn’t take long to work it out.
Comedy is not something I get into, some would say that I have no sense of humour but that’s not it ( though I will admit it’s a little warped). I find that comedy comes across as planned where I tend to find my laughs more organically.
Lucy Crighton is at a crossroads in her life. She is back in her childhood home and feeling stifled by the town of her childhood. She’s feeling down that things aren’t how she thought they would be and fearing that she’s running out of time. Her parents are happy enough to have her but also pointing out that she needs to start standing on her own two feet again.
This is the point where she needs to start making decisions, working out what she really wants from her life. There is a lot about Lucy that is totally relatable and I think most people will be able to sit back and recognise that they have been where she is. Lucy is scared of making the wrong decision, taking the wrong path, being with the wrong man, living in the wrong city, being stuck in the wrong job and who can’t relate to that. Lucy lets that fear stop her from chasing dreams and is left floating through life in a sea of discontent.
Her financial position is dire and Lucy needs to find work, she has to have her own money even if she is living with her folks. She is surrounded by people who believe in her but she hasn’t got that belief in herself and it’s crippling her chances, at her dreams and in her everyday life. So it’s her mum and her best friend Rosie that set her up with a writing gig, formulating the blurbs for a home shopping catalogue. It’s not glamorous, it’s not life-changing, but it is a writing gig and it’s bringing in some money which will allow her to write her novel.
Lucy doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life and she feels that she should. On the one hand she feels like she’s almost too old to achieve her dreams of a published novel, husband and children but on the other she’s thinking of a change in career path and the things she considers mean a return to intensive long term study.
The cast of supporting characters are charming and quirky. Rosie is Lucy’s crazy childhood best friend, she’s one of the family and spends as much time at Lucy’s as she does at home – even when Lucy isn’t there. Rosie has commitment issues of her own, both to a relationship and a full-time job. She isn’t afraid to tell Lucy what she really thinks and goes from being the voice of reason to the instigator of crazy shenanigans.
The two are in their early 30s, their friends are getting married and starting families while these two are returning to the days of boozy all-nighters at the bar and teenaged backyard drinking games. A change of scenery with a move to London and Lucy finds a job she loves and falls into a relationship, works on her novel and things all seem to be looking up for her but she is still settling in fear of chasing her dreams and not being able to make it.
Lucy’s parents are endearing characters. The two are retired and finding their way through this new phase in life. Mum takes up a string of ridiculous hobbies and cultivates her long standing obsession with Cher while Dad struggles a little and is always out doing things. These are lovable and supportive parents with their fair share of embarrassing habits.
Daniels has written a touching story of family, friendship and finding the strength to follow your dream. It’s a story that reminds us that sometimes it’s all in the perspective and you need to find self-belief before you can truly shine.
Girl in Between is a story that I enjoyed, Lucy is a character that I related to and this is sure to offer a wide range of emotions to readers. Is it ever too late to find what you really want to do with your life?
I especially enjoyed watching the shift in the way that Lucy viewed Rockhampton (Rocky). The story starts with her almost resenting the small town with residents she’s known forever, the memories on every corner and the lack of big city living. New neighbours offer fresh eyes to see the town through and the perspective starts to shift but it’s not until near the end when Lucy has started finding herself that she really recognises the beauty that surrounds her and that Rocky will always be home; and that is definitely something I relate well to.
Girl In Between is book #22 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2017.