Fourteen (Shannon Molloy, S&S)
Fourteen is the factual account of one year in the life of a gay high-schooler in the small central Queensland town of Yeppoon. Journalist Shannon Molloy uses clear, concise language that makes his memoir easy to read, but also allows for both moments of levity and scenes that pack a heart-rending punch. Anyone who was a teen in the late 90s will enjoy reminiscing about early internet chat rooms, Smash Hits magazine, ‘Mambo Number Five’ and drinking casks of Fruity Lexia and inflating them to use as a pillow. But what really hits hard in Molloy’s memoir is the cruelty and violence perpetuated by fellow students and some teachers. The blatant homophobia in Yeppoon is shocking. Molloy is bullied and othered in a way that, considering the steps that have been taken towards equality, seems appalling compared to the present. Thankfully for Molloy, who went on to become a successful entertainment reporter in Sydney, it does indeed get better. For adults and older teenage readers Fourteen might serve as a tear-jerking but ultimately optimistic view of how things can change, both personally and in a broader societal sense.
Hannah Cartmel is an editor and co-founder of The Rag & Bone Man Press Inc.