'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Wednesday 25 November 2020

Review: Remind Me Why I'm Here

This is a fun, sweet-level teen romance. It starts off with a misunderstanding. Maya, an American teenage girl, flies halfway across the world to what she thought was a home-stay vacation in the trendy Sydney suburb of Barangaroo.


She’d actually booked and paid for a home stay in a dry and dusty sheep farm in Barangaroo Creek. Oops.

Her host-brother Gus is less than impressed to have to show her around as he had been bulldozed into helping her to tick-off experiences on her very cliched Australian to-do list.

He’s so unimpressed that he tries to spook her with a variety of scary creatures that Australia is renowned for, in the hopes that she will run away screaming back to the city and finish her holiday there...thereby freeing him to spend his summer doing what he wanted to do.

Luckily for him, it’s easy to scare the animal-phobic Maya.

But she proves to be quite resistant, despite his childish pranks. As the story unfolds, it seems that Maya is more than a clueless tourist. There is a sad story behind her motivation to holiday in Australia, and as they get to know one another, Gus and Maya find they have more in common than they thought.

This is a story about both finding meaning in grief and moving on from guilt.

Overall, an easy and sometimes humorous read, with lots of clash-of-cultures, prank-wars and opposites-attract moments to enjoy. But in its attempt to tackle more profound issues, a whiff of ableism taints the sweet novel with a sour undertone.

Older brother Patrick supports Maya when Gus is being a jerk to her, but this wheelchair-bound person exists in the narrative to give Maya a problem to solve. No question of a romance there! How lucky for him that not only is Maya a mechanical whizz-kid, but her guilt being parallel to Gus’s means that Gus can come to terms with it, and finally allow Patrick to access the mobility aid he needs to fulfil his ambition.

Otherwise, Patrick is an inoffensive nice-guy with no depth, no ownership of his own backstory, no grief or PTSD and ultimately, no agency. Patrick only appears on-stage when Maya and Gus’s story requires this of him and obligingly remains back-stage otherwise.

Sweet and fun, but a missed opportunity to include and celebrate a diverse voice.

Title: Remind Me Why I'm Here
Author: Cat Colmer
Publisher: Rhiza Edge, $16.99
Publication Date: 12 Auguat, 2020
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781925563924
For ages: 12+
Type: Young Adult Fiction