It Sounded Better in My Head (Nina Kenwood, Text)
Natalie is caught in-between: between year 12 exams and uni results, between her parents’ slow-motion divorce, between her two best friends, Zach and Lucy, who have been dating for a while. Her self-confidence was shattered by a spate of acute acne when she was younger and, while her skin has cleared up, Natalie still bears the physical and emotional scars. Her refuge is writing stories, but even in her imagination she’s never the centre of attention. Cue some major life decisions, alongside a summer romance, and Natalie’s anxiety is off the charts! Winner of the 2018 Text Prize Nina Kenwood has created nuanced and authentic characters, each caught up in their trajectory towards adulthood. Natalie is a fun, if neurotic, narrator and the plot bounces along from cringe-worthy and sweet first experiences to the more serious navigation of friendships, dating and family. Ideas of consent and trust are particularly well broached, modelling sensitivity and awareness while keeping the book free of R-rated content. This is a gorgeous and funny coming-of-age novel that perfectly captures the awkward, liminal nature of adolescence. The seamless combination of humour and heart is reminiscent of Barry Jonsberg or Kate De Goldi and is recommended for readers aged 15 and above.
Annie Waters sells books, writes about books and podcasts about books