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

Monday 8 April 2024

Review: What They Told Me

From award-winning author Hayley Lawrence, this coming-of-age story speaks in a strong, vulnerable voice to teenage readers. It’s a powerful narrative that will evoke compassion and empathy in young minds.

Fifteeen-year-old Elliot has always known that she’s one of the ‘lucky’ Gillespe family who have lived by Crooked River for generations. So when her parents deliver ‘unlucky’ and life-altering news, the world as she knows it slips on its axis. 

Nothing will ever be the same again. And as her life is turned upside down, it seems that Elliot might lose all the important people and places in her world.

It’s always hard when your beliefs are shattered, and especially so when you’re young. 

This story is told searingly, achingly through the lens of a teen navigating crisis after crisis in the form of loss and change, without always being able to access the survival tools she needs. She is by turns angry, defiant, broken and defeated – yet throughout it all, she remains very, very ‘Elliot.’

The story has a wonderful recurring motif about the things you can keep even when your world is falling apart, and it is this that holds Elliot afloat and speaks to a new, layered and deeper friendship with bestie and romantic interest Drake, who lives a kayak ride away. She is also able to share her newfound wisdom about keeping the important things, with her brother, in his time of need.

All of this means that even as our hearts break for Elliot’s challenging inward journey, there’s also a strong urge to cheer her on from the sidelines. Happily, she does in fact manage to move through her grief and loss – changed, and quite a bit wiser.

An insightful, thoughtful read that may offer reassurance to those living through upheaval themselves.

Title: What They Told Me
Author: Hayley Lawrence
Publisher: Scholastic $18.99
Publication Date: 1 Feb, 2024
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781761291708
For Ages: 13 +
Type: Young Adult