I think whenever I read a mediocre book I should just balance it out with an Australian young adult book. For real, I have no idea what they do in the land down under, but they sure do produce a hell of a lot of great reads. After reading a particularly terrible American contemporary book, I picked upáOut Of This Place by Emma Cameron for a change of pace, as it’s told in verse instead of your typical prose. I loved thatáOut Of This Place wasn’t a parade of privilege, but instead a deep book about teenagers with real problems yet there’s hope and resilience peppered throughout the narrative. Frankly, I can’t recommendáOut Of This Place highly enough.
Out Of This Place is a story told in three separate sections through three viewpoints – Luke, Casey, and Bongo each take a turn at the helm. The three youths live in a crappy town called Pebble Beach, which is essentially working class. None of the three have easy lives — I think that Luke may actually have the most charmed life of the three, but he’s still from a working class background. Anyways, the book is all about the different life paths the three take and how they struggle but eventually overcome. It truly is resilience personified and that’s basically what endeared the book to me, the fact that it was about actual problems and not just shallow first world problems.
Luke is the first of the three narrators ináOut Of This Place and his is probably the least of the sad stories. Luke is finishing out his year at school and tries to stay out of trouble while saving up for a new car. He has applied for a scholarship and is just waiting to hear about it. His section is basically all about his hopes for the future and his pining for Casey, but even then, his feelings for her do not overwhelm his portion. I never felt my gag reflex activate while reading his part. I think that Luke is totally a steady and strong sort of character that serves as contrast for both Casey and Bongo. Like, his part is important, but in comparison he’s got it kind of easy, but he makes for a nice introduction to the other characters.
Casey is the only female narrator ináOut Of This Placeáand her story is enough to break your heart. You see, her parents had her when they were way too young. Her mom sees her as a surprise and her dad sees her as an accident, one that he resents. Her dad places all of these restrictions on Casey and it stifles her. You can just tell that she wants nothing more than to get out of Pebble Beach. So, what Casey’s narrative shows is what happens when she does make her escape. And yes, there’s strife along the way, but ultimately Casey finds happiness and the journey is worth the words, y’all.
Bongo closes out Cameron’s book. He is probably even more troubled than Casey. You see, Bongo spends his days getting high and drunk because Social Services took his brother away, you see his brother was born addicted to heroin. Bongo’s mom is an addict. His stepdad is terribly abusive. And, you guessed it, Bongo feels that he needs to escape this place. Only, he does not find the going as easy as Casey or Luke — not that either one has it easy. However, Bongo has a few more issues. Of course, he forges his own path and well, I loved how the whole thing played out.
Frankly, verse was a great choice for Emma Cameron’sáOut Of This Place. Not a single word was misplaced or wasted. Each section feels distinct and heavy with backstory. I mean this in a positive sort of way. I loved how Cameron set up the narration so that it went from easiest to hardest — but we see the different paths and turns life can take and how no matter your background, you can find strength to overcome. I liked what I perceived the message to be, about how Out Of This Place is centered onánot giving in or giving up. It’s a quiet, wonderful read and one I’d totally hand you if I had enough copies to go around.
Disclosure: Review Copy Provided by Publisher