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

Monday 12 September 2022

Review: Sadie Starr's Guide To Starting Over

With both an enticing title and cover, Sadie Starr’s Guide To Starting Over promises from the get-go to be an entertaining YA read.

Sadie is a teenage girl on a mission to start over in many areas of her life. This is helped along by the fact that her family is moving from Sydney to Melbourne with not a lot of time to say goodbye to her crush Daniel (with whom things are very complicated) or the smattering of friends she doesn’t feel she actually has.

The book opens at the airport, with Sadie in the Ladies removing all traces of herself from social media – a fabulous opening gambit. This is the first inkling we have of her tendency to take extreme action without necessarily thinking through the consequences.

Sadie Starr is a flawed but very likeable teen with OCD, disordered eating, overbearing parents, a sometime lack of behaviour regulation, chronic self-doubt, the need to fit in and be liked – in fact, all the things that young adulthood (and indeed, general adulthood) seems to touch on at some point or other. 

In Luby’s hands, these subjects along with performative feminism, cancel-culture, loneliness, secrets, family dynamics, grief and bullying are deftly handled, although sometimes confronting for the reader. These threads that weave their respective ways through the narrative are not at all preachy – they’re embedded within the character’s psyches and behaviours, which is what makes this such an interesting and relevant work for today.

Surprisingly in light of the above, the feel-good factor throughout this book is very high. I suspect this is because our guide Sadie is funny. Very funny. She brings us moments of pure humour gold. She’s also endearing, unpredictable and exceedingly frustrating – all of which make for a compelling and entertaining journey into her world.

With its contemporary attitude and representation, endearing characters, dialogue that’s ripe for the picking and great descriptions of Melbourne, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this work optioned for the screen.

Please note the trigger warning for DISORDERED EATING.

Title: Sadie Starr’s Guide To Starting Over
Author: Miranda Luby
Publisher: Text, $22.99
Publication Date: 2 August 2022
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781922458674
For ages: 14+
Type: Young Adult