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A gripping, beautifully observed tale of what a teenage girl will do to keep her friends, by one of Australia's finest writers, Sonya Hartnett.

On the verge of her fourteenth birthday, Plum knows her life will change. But she has no idea how.

Over the coming weeks, her beautiful neighbour Maureen will show her how she might fly. Her adored older brothers will court catastrophe in worlds that she barely knows exist. And her friends – her worst enemies – will tease and test, smelling weakness. They will try to lead her on and take her down.

Who ever forgets what happens when you're fourteen?

'Lucid and beautiful, compassionate yet unflinching, enigmatic yet touching, sometimes tragic sometimes funny ... a writer at the height of her powers.' Sophie Masson, Weekend Australian

'Rich, visceral ... Hartnett's tiny domestic insights unleash a tornado of human experience.' Herald Sun

'Hartnett's prose is breathtakingly good ... Will make adult female readers shiver with gladness at being all grown up.' Big Issue

Reviews

Exquisitely written – you end up rereading sentence after sentence – and unforgettable.

Nick Hornby

An extraordinary writer ... A heart-stopping representation of adolescent girlhood, as strange and riddling and true as fiction gets ... Dark and riveting ... Combine[s] a Garner-like level of observational authenticity with a sweeping dramatic brilliance ... It's hard not to think in the face of this black little diamond of a book ... Dazzling.

Peter Craven, The Age

Lucid and beautiful, compassionate yet unflinching, enigmatic yet touching, sometimes tragic sometimes funny, this is a memorable novel by a writer at the height of her powers.

Sophie Masson, Weekend Australian

Rich, visceral ... Hartnett's tiny domestic insights unleash a tornado of human experience.

Herald Sun

Hartnett's prose is breathtakingly good. Her sentences have the deft economy of poetry; her images are variably pointed or achingly poignant, sometimes both ... Will make adult female readers shiver with gladness at being all grown up.

Big Issue

Full of insight and wit.

The Guardian

Sonya Hartnett is an expert in psychological danger.

Sunday Telegraph

A skilled and subtle writer.

Canberra Times

Sonya Hartnett is a splendid writer ... Hartnett's great setting is the scuffed rehearsal room of our youth. She leads us in there with a deceptively gentle voice, beautifully cadenced.

Craig Sherborne, The Monthly

A beautiful book filled with heartbreak and empathy.

Woman's Day

Hartnett's trademark, Amis-like ability to play with language is as impressive as ever.

Sydney Morning Herald

A bittersweet joy.

Madison

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback

    9780143203056

    September 28, 2009

    Penguin

    224 pages

    RRP $19.99

    Online retailers

    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Dymocks
    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    • The Nile
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook

    9781742285344

    September 28, 2009

    Penguin eBooks

    222 pages

    Online retailers

    • Amazon Kindle AU
    • iBooks
    • Google Play EBook AU
    • Kobo Ebook
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks

Awards and Recognition

  • Prime Minister's Literary Award
    2010
    Highly commended
    Fiction