How to Repaint a Life (Steven Herrick, UQP)
How to Repaint a Life is the latest offering from Steven Herrick, author of award-winning young adult titles including The Simple Gift and The Bogan Mondrian. This is gritty, heartbreaking prose that delves into topics such as homelessness, domestic violence and #MeToo, and is best suited to mature teenage readers. However, the narrative is written with sensitivity and offers plenty of hope, especially in the relief that comes with finding genuine connections and a community. We meet Isaac as he makes the decision to run away from his old life. When he arrives in a small town, a local cafe owner offers him a chance to start anew. Meanwhile, Sophie is bored of high school and sick of the toxic masculinity of her classmates. She hasn’t felt like she belonged since her best friend left their small town; however, she is also conflicted about heading to the city to study art. Unexpectedly, there are a few chapters from Sophie’s father’s point of view, which add worthwhile adult insight to the story. When Isaac and Sophie meet, they discover together that it might be possible to ‘repaint’ their lives. In this book Herrick explores the idea of moving on from the past and forging your own path. Like Herrick’s previous novels, this latest work provides an excellent story for developing empathy in teen readers, showing them what it’s like to walk in the shoes of someone who hasn’t been dealt an easy hand. How to Repaint a Life is a moving and unflinching story of young people taking control of their future.
Karys McEwen is the library manager at Prahran and Richmond High School and the president of the CBCA VIC Branch.