Rebellious from the beginning, Untidy Towns by Kate O’Donnell gets off to a flying start. 17-year-old Adelaide runs away from her boarding school one day, for no reason except her boredom, and failed expectations, both in herself and others. She meets Jarrod, a boy who has dropped out of school, and is the disappointment of his parents and the whole town. Adelaide learns, however, that everything will eventually fall into place.
It was a relief to read a book where the main love interests fall for each other in a way that doesn’t feel forced and would happen in real life. O’Donnell is incredibly in touch with the 2000s teenager, and has created a story that will resonate with many teens. The teenage characters talk, act, yes, even read books like normal teenage kids. Like that teenager, however, I felt the book never really goes anywhere or does anything.
For me, this book didn’t live up to its full potential as a ‘coming of age’ novel. Dealing with themes such as identity and love, Untidy Towns seems to overstep its boundaries a little bit. I think that this book would have been better off without all the talk about the future or the past. The characters were cute, the story was like a warm hug, and that’s all that a romance novel needs. It was a fun book to read, even though it took me a little while to get it to it. I would recommend this to readers 10 - 16 years old who are happy with an easy to read book.
Chloe, Year 10
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