|Left: Australian cover art. Right: American cover art.|
Girl Defective by Simmone Howell
Sky's family of misfits lives above a vintage record store: her father is an alcoholic deep in denial and firmly stuck in the past, her little brother Gully pretends to be a secret agent and won’t take off his pig snout mask, and her mother left the family behind for an avant-garde career in music. Sky is drawn to Luke, the older brother of a girl who mysteriously drowned, and she yearns to emulate her worldly friend Nancy, while at the same time considers herself a “resident bird,” intent on finding her place (whatever it may be) in St Kilda, a suburb of Melbourne.
In keeping with a family obsessed by vintage vinyl, Sky often describes people and situations by comparing them to old (and often obscure) music recordings. Readers (like me) who lack knowledge of these recordings will still be able to follow the story, but probably miss some of the nuance of the story.
The well-written characters are quirky, flawed and layered. The dialogue is snappy and sometimes brutally honest. The mysterious death of Luke’s sister Mia is not the focus of the story, but investigating it brings clues forward to inform other issues and other characters. Few situations are actually resolved, but the conclusion holds many notes of redemption.
Recommended for readers ages 14 to adult.